Tuesday, September 04, 2007

There are Barrys... and then there are Tikis


ESPN's Mike & Mike have a "Just Shut Up" Award that they give out each Tuesday morning, but someone in Bristol should go ahead and tell them to call it a "Tiki," in early honor of a player who really had no current or historical relevance in his career--and blames it all on everyone else around him.

Yes, of course I'm talking about Tiki Barber. After spitting seeds at poor lil' Eli Manning a few weeks ago, apparently someone thought to give this guy a book deal, in which he blames New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin for his retirement, saying:

"If Tom Coughlin had not remained as head coach of the Giants, I might still be in a Giants uniform," Barber writes, according to the Daily News.

"[Coughlin] robbed me of what had been one of the most important things I had in my life, which was the joy I felt playing football," Barber wrote, according to the newspaper. "I had lost that. He had taken it away."

[sob, sob... wimper wimper] ...yes I added this, but you know it fits right in

Now the fact that Tom Coughlin is a tough coach to play for is exactly that--a fact. His demeanor and high demands of his players have produced lots of wins, in both Jacksonville and New York. But they also produce the angst that results in his eventual firing once the team has a bad season.

But it has become apparent that Tiki is hell-bent on being the biggest DIVA to ever transition out of professional sports. The fact is, the BEST years of his career (nearly half of his 10,000 career yards in only 3 seasons) came with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning at the helm. When it was just he and Jesse Palmer, who was talking about Tiki? What team was he taking to the playoffs? And now that the two of them, despite their inabilities and character flaws, actually lifted the Giants to a level of pseudo prominence, Tiki has somehow gotten the idea that he was the show, and that their problems led to poor 'ol Tiki's early exit.

I don't know if you remember last season when his original reasons came out for retiring. He said that he wanted to leave the game with his health intact. At 31, he still had the physical strength and sturdiness to play with his kids, and to live a normal life, and he didn't see how he could retire any other way. I totally supported him on that point, and I actually thought it was a noble thing to do for his family--not having them care for him for the rest of his life like many ex-NFL players need. But now that he's coming out with this crap about Coughlin? It's tough to ever desire to hear him as an analyst if he doesn't tell the truth the first time, and if he is this petty and bitter, they won't keep him around for long.

My one bit of advice to Tiki would be this: GET OVER YOURSELF. Tiki, I know you wanted a Kobe Bryant career, where you could decide whether/when/where the coach or players around you could stay or go. Problem is, as a football player, you came nowhere near a Kobe level of talent. So instead, you spent an entire season telling your team you were going to quit, jumped straight from the field to the NBC analyst booth, and used your national platform to spout off at the guys YOU quit on...guys who probably are even more responsible for your success than you were for theirs.

So as we give Tiki the inaugural "Tiki" Award, let's also give him a Wikipedia page where he can take some notes on how to have some level of integrity in his post-NFL career.

Barry Sanders...played the same number of seasons as Tiki, but amassed 5,000 more yards...made this all happen behind one of the worst offensive lines of his time...never made a Super Bowl, but always gave a Super Bowl effort... his desire to celebrate his touchdowns with his team rather than by himself showed him to be the consummate professional, and a man of humility... and when he retired at age 30, his competitive nature unable to stand another losing season, he found no national stage, and he made no pot shots against his owner, coach, or teammates. Were we to give out a "Barry Sanders" Award, it would be bestowed on a person who possessed all the characteristics lacking in a person like Tiki Barber.

We've got to look deeper into these recurring themes in sport. The athlete who desires to win at all cost is often hazed in with the athlete who makes his millions and complains about how everyone else kept him from winning as he walks out the door. Quite simply, in this max-contract era of superstardom, there are gonna be some haves, and some have-nots when it comes to winning and achieving. If Tiki truly performed at his highest level, and was paid to do so (though he complains about that too...), then leave all the "What ifs?" to those who latter attempt to piece together his so-called legacy.

I just hope that at the end of February I'm not back here writing about comments Tiki said about Jerome Bettis and Bob Costas interrupting his train of thought and hampering his post-game analysis...


1 comment:

T3FLON said...

Great thoughts. Isn't it funny to watch Tiki's 'analysis' on NBC? That is high comedy.