A little dishing on sports

The Inherent Evil of Tiki Barber

Over margaritas at brunch yesterday I asked my wife for her thoughts on what my next post should be.  Her response: “How about Tiger Woods?”  I furrowed my brow and answered that I’ve already written about Tiger’s lack of accountability; Tiger’s pitiful first apology; and Tiger’s miraculous recovery from sex addiction.  Unless Tiger coins a new definition for “hole-in-one,” “birdie,” bogey” or “dogleg” during the final round of the Masters, I am not writing about Tiger Woods again anytime soon.

“Fine,” my wife said.  How about a post on “that scumbag, Tiki Barber?”  My immediate reaction: My wife appears to be fixated on black celebrities who have cheated on their wives.  I really hope this blog doesn’t hit big because I definitely don’t want to become a celebrity.  Then I thought to myself, “Is that the right lesson to take from this?  Maybe I should ask my wife.”  I glanced over to her happily knocking back her pomegranate margarita and instinctively decided that maybe I should figure this one out without her.  Chi’s will counsel me.  Anyway, I digress.

I was intrigued by the idea of writing about Tiki Barber, but hadn’t yet thought through what the proper approach would be for a blog post about the guy.  I mean, I remember Tiki as a Giant.  Here are his stats for his last five seasons:

G GS Att      Yds  Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost

2006 16 16 327 1,662 5.1 55T     5    58 465    8.0    28    0        3     1

2005 16 16 357 1,860 5.2 95T     9    54 530    9.8    48    2        1     1

2004 16 14 322 1,518 4.7 72T     13  52 578    11.1  62T  2        5     2

2003 16 16 278 1,216 4.4 27         2   69 461    6.7    36   1        9     6

2002 16 15 304 1,387 4.6 70      11   69 597    8.7    38   0        9     6

Yikes!  Tiki Barber was a superstar!  He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2004 and 2005 and over the entire four year period between 2003-2006.  In 2005, he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,800 yards and have 500 receiving yards in the same season.   Admittedly, the Giants were a mixed bag during Tiki’s Glory Days – I probably shouldn’t be bringing up Bruce Springsteen here, right? Oh well.  But Tiki Barber compiled numbers that have rarely if ever been seen in the NFL for one of the most loyal and appreciative fan bases in sports.  He was a clutch player, saving one of his greatest games for the weekend after the death of beloved Giants owner Wellington Mara, literally carrying the Giants to victory over the rival Redskins.   Tiki worked hard, he never missed games, he was the one constant on the offense over the years, and he was also ubiquitous.  He didn’t get lost in the shuffle the way quieter stars like Rodney Hampton and Carl Banks had over the years.  You would think a guy who was this good and who had this high a profile would be beloved by Giants fans, right?  He wasn’t.  He was respected.  His skills were admired, but Tiki Barber was never loved.  Why?  Because we knew he was a sleaze.  Let’s be honest.

Tiki Barber came across as a selfish, elitist jerk.  From the time in 2002 when he criticized teammate Michael Strahan for not coming to terms with the Giants on a contract to the time he criticized his coach, Tom Coughlin, saying he had been outcoached in a playoff loss.  I should note that before Coughlin changed Tiki’s approach to carrying the football, he had a reputation as a fumbler, death to any NFL runningback.  It was the new style – and the ability to hold on to the football – that elevated Tiki to elite status as a runningback.  Of course, that didn’t stop Tiki from criticizing Coughlin or former teammate Eli Manning’s leadership skills after Tiki retired and went to work for NBC.  Eli responded, of course, by leading the Giants to a memorable Super Bowl victory just three months later.  Nice commentary, Tiki.  It wasn’t just that Tiki was critical, it was that there was such detachment, such lack of compassion and humanity in the way he spoke that was disturbing.  You would never sense that lack of passion in the way Jerome Bettis talks about the Steelers or Rodney Harrison talks about the Patriots.

Knowing that I, like most Giants fans really didn’t like Tiki, I asked my wife, who hates football, what she thought of him.  She said she didn’t really know Tiki.  She had seen him on The Bachelor the season former Giant Jesse Palmer was on the show and said he came across “as an arrogant man, but no more so than most professional athletes.”  She’d seen him once or twice on other programs, but never gave him much thought.  Then this week happened and it came out that Tiki was not only having an affair with a 23 year old former Today show, but that he left his 8 months pregnant wife to shack up with this young woman.  That, my wife says, proves he’s “inherently evil.”  I thought about responding that if you’re going to do that at least have on your resume that you starred in the best movie of the last ten years but I thought the better of it since she was ordering her second margarita, which meant it was no time for jokes.

Instead, I will simply agree with my wife, which is how all of these debates end anyway since I’m not an idiot.  Tiki Barber is inherently evil.  There’s nothing left to discuss.


2 Responses to “The Inherent Evil of Tiki Barber”

  1. I saw Tiki and his wife about 6 months ago, we were in the same restaurant. I was sitting by the window that faced the sidewalk. Tiki and his wife looked very happy and when they left they were outside on the sidewalk for about 10 minutes because fans kept walking up to Tiki and most wanted pictures with him and he complied. I thought to myself, “what a really nice guy!” Believe me, that thought hasn’t crossed my mind about him in the past week and am baffled how people can look so happy and nice are just down right scum.

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