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For Barber and Giants, a Parting, Then an Embrace

 

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"Those are my guys," said the former Giant Tiki Barber, with guard Rich Seubert after the team won the Super Bowl.

 

 

By WILLIAM C. RHODEN

Published: February 8, 2008

 

For the past few days, the million dollar question in New York — outside of whether Roger Clemens did it or didn't do it — is how Tiki Barber feels about the Giants' rousing Super Bowl victory.

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Related

Spagnuolo's Decision to Stay With Giants Is Rewarded (February 8, 2008)

 

Look back at the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory.

 

 

 

Speculation has been wide ranging: Barber must feel crushed. Barber must feel awful to have played so many years and never earned a ring.

 

There was even speculation that if the Giants won, Barber's former teammates would turn a cold shoulder if he tried to interview them in his new capacity as a broadcast journalist.

 

Didn't happen.

 

On Sunday amid confetti and a wild celebration, Barber was actually embraced by some of his former teammates. Immediately after the victory, Eli Manning, whom Barber had called out to be more of a leader, gave Barber a one-on-one interview for the "Today" show.

 

"Those are my guys," Barber said Thursday from his home in Manhattan. "I went down on the field after the game, and there wasn't one guy who didn't come up and give me a big hug and say, 'God, I wish you were still here.' There wasn't one guy."

 

Retiring star players often set the foundation for future success. In Barber's case, his criticism of Coach Tom Coughlin and of Manning might have paid dividends this season. You can argue that Barber's tactics became too public. But often, the only way to bring about change is to confront — sometimes embarrass — authority. Barber laid the foundation for what happened this season, from taking on Coughlin, to challenging Manning to step up, to tutoring Brandon Jacobs.

 

"I feel great joy for them because I know in a lot of ways I helped a lot of guys on that team," Barber said. "I know Brandon was someone who benefited from me being there; even criticizing someone is a way of getting them to think about themselves."

 

I asked Barber if he thought his criticism of Manning helped prod him out of a shell. "I don't know, cause Eli doesn't pay attention, " Barber said laughing. "In this case, it made him stand up and I guess become aware."

 

Last summer, a current Giants veteran, who is a member of Coughlin's advisory board of players, confirmed the effectiveness of Barber's outspokenness in an e-mail message. Under the subject line of "Miss U," the message read:

 

"You would be happy to know all your work paid off for us. Tom has been unbelievably cool this year. Took us bowling last night instead of meetings and just been joking around and busting on guys all the time. You would be impressed by his transformation."

 

Barber said he chatted with Jeremy Shockey, the Giants' injured tight end, after the team's dramatic victory in Green Bay in the National Football Conference title game. Shockey wanted to know how Barber was taking the Giants' success.

 

"We chatted on text message a little bit," Barber said. "He was like, 'Aw, you got to be dying.' I said, 'Jeremy, I've been out of this a year already, I'm not dying.' "

 

I wondered: was Shockey dying? "It was upsetting to him because people were saying they got that far because he wasn't there," Barber said. "Shockey's response to me was, 'The people who know, know that's not true, and that's all that matters.' " ---- :clap:

 

In the midst of all the "how must Tiki feel" speculation, I thought about Oscar Robertson, one the greatest basketball players ever.

 

Robertson was a star at Cincinnati and led the Bearcats to the Final Four in 1960. The season after Robertson left, Cincinnati won the first of two consecutive national championships. I wondered how he felt.

 

 

"I was really happy for them," Robertson said Thursday from his home in Cincinnati. "Everything is timing, you know."

 

Robertson said that when the star player left, younger players who watched and took notes often stepped up the next season. "All that time, when the star is taking all that heat, getting double- and triple-teamed, you've got to learn something," Robertson said. "Without even knowing it, sometimes you lay a foundation."

 

Was there any part of him that wished he were there to enjoy the thrill of winning the national championship?

 

"Naturally, I would have liked to have won while I was there, but I had my time," he said. "I couldn't go back; I had my time."

 

Barber was in Tampa, Fla., on Monday looking at real estate in connection with a partnership to build affordable housing. Among real estate, broadcasting and publishing a new book, Barber has an open field before him.

 

He said there was also no sorrow, no remorse. "I feel a lot of joy for them," he said. "I really do."

 

Believe Barber or don't believe him, but time has moved on and he has moved on with it. I'd suggest that Giants fans savor this special time in franchise history because the moment is fleeting, indeed. :confused:

 

WE would not of won the Super Bowl if it was not for him Quitting on his team...... or so he says.

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Guest StrahansGap

Tiki was about Tiki and he was also about bringing the team down with his negative comments. Fuck him and his stupid wife. I'd rather have Jacobs and Bradshaw.

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Why is everyone always so down on Tiki? The worse negative I ever heard from him was that Eli needed to take over the team as a leader. I, for one, think that was true. Eli didn't take over the leadership of the team until somewhere in the middle of the first NE game.

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