On Tuesday morning, Tiki Barber shared his thoughts on Tom Coughlin, both as a coach and as a man. Barber, who was a three-time Pro Bowler under Coughlin, didn’t like everything about the crotchety curmudgeon, but he respected the man a great deal.
Even if the New York Daily News doesn’t want you to believe that.
The newspaper printed a story Wednesday entitled “A Tiki Torching,” cherry-picking pseudo-negative comments that Barber made about Coughlin on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. The subhead beneath the headline read, “Ex-running back calls Tom ‘pain in the ass’” and added, “Tiki Barber has parting shot for Tom Coughlin.”
Barber was annoyed by the Daily News’ antics. Brandon Tierney, who was not in studio Tuesday due to illness, was peeved.
“This bothers me,” Tierney said. “I know you don’t get wrapped up in this game because you’re above it at this point – and I haven’t had to say this in awhile because it hasn’t come up organically – but I think the way this has been positioned (is) so unfair to you. Because if you really take the time to read what you said and just pick up an objective prism for the seven minutes that it’ll take you to read or listen to it, what you said about Tom Coughlin was 1,000 percent true, 1,000 percent accurate, and, in my opinion, what you said about Coughlin yesterday was the most poignant that anybody’s delivered because it was the most real. It was the most all-encompassing.”
Indeed, Barber didn’t lie and say that playing for Coughlin was all roses and daises. It was hard, and, a lot of times, it wasn’t fun. But Barber would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Even if, again, the Daily News doesn’t want you to believe that.
“It’s a disservice to you,” Tierney said. “It’s a disservice to your ability to put personal feelings at the door and really truly give good, strong commentary on something that I know is important to you. I think it’s been very misrepresented – and that bothers me.”
Tierney then gave the floor to Barber.
“Well, the problem is, most people will take what I say that has been put in print by someone else – and bastardized by a piece-of-trash sports newsroom by the Daily News – and not ever listen to what I actually said,” Barber began. “That’s what bothers me. Listen to what I said. Yes, Tom was a pain in the ass. But what I said was because he was a pain in the ass, he made me a great player. Call it whatever you want, that’s a compliment to Tom.”
Other current and former Giants, such as Eli Manning, David Diehl and Justin Tuck, spoke lovingly and reverently of Coughlin in the wake of his resignation. But you have to remember: those players won a Super Bowl with Coughlin. Barber did not. Thus, the relationship that they had with Coughlin is different.
“He treated them a different way than he treated me, but I wasn’t in love with Tom Coughlin,” Barber admitted. “I respected the hell out of him as a coach. In fact, that’s what I said yesterday on our show. When John Mara asked me should they fire him, I said ‘No, he’s a great coach. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s a great coach.’ But eventually he changed and became who he is now and a Hall of Famer. And so for the Daily News to just try to sell newspapers by making me the antagonist, the villain, in what is a great story of Tom Coughlin’s career outside of New York is pathetic. It is absolutely pathetic.
“And I am not above it sometimes,” Barber continued. “Because if I saw that guy – the headline writer or whoever wrote that article – I’d spit it in his face because it’s pathetic. They’ve done it consistently since I’ve left the Giants. I’ve been the villain since I left the Giants simply because I didn’t conform to the plantation mentality of, ‘Oh, I just give it my best. Master says do this.’ That’s never been me. If you ask me a question, I am telling you what I feel honestly and truthfully. If you don’t like it, don’t ask me the damn question.
“That’s the problem that I have with the New York news writers in this city because they don’t care about the story. They don’t care about what I actually said. Go listen to what I actually said instead of what this jerk or jackass decided to say I said. . . . You talk about journalistic integrity and appreciating your peers in the business. Those guys, I don’t appreciate. I don’t believe they have an ounce of journalistic integrity. I really don’t.”