Saying the name 'Tiki Barber' gives most Giants fans a terrible taste in their mouth. In the past few years, the guy has shown himself to be an egotistical, petty, selfish, and generally unlikable person. When his highlights appear on the big screen at Giants Stadium, it's met with a chorus of boos, thanks to his bitter exit from the Giants to pursue a career as a laughably bad football analyst. So it's likely that when he's presented this Sunday night as part of the Giants ring of honor, he can expect to hear those boos in person, probably at a high volume. I'll be there, and you can bet that I will not be among those booing. I've never booed Tiki Barber and I never will, and while I understand the anger and resentment that many Giants fans feel toward him, I feel the need to justify my stance. I'm not trying to convert anybody to the Pro-Tiki side, but allow me to present some reasons why he deserves to be applauded on Sunday night:
Tiki Barber spent his entire career with the Giants. I know that might not be a big deal to a lot of people, but that matters to me as a Giants fan. He played every down of his career, every yard, every punishing hit he took, every game breaking run, every touchdown, as a New York Giant. Say what you want about his ugly exit from the team, but the man was leaving the game of football entirely, not jumping ship to the Eagles or some other team. Even in football where trades and free agency moves are not nearly as common as other sports, any player who spends the entirety of his career with our Giants gets respect in my book.
Tiki's the greatest offensive player in Giants history, period. Feel free to make your Frank Gifford arguments, but in my opinion it's not even close. For a guy who was drafted in the second round and was expected to be little more than a 3rd down back and punt returner, he exceeded anyone's expectations by miles. Upon his retirement, Tiki ranked 11th ALL TIME in NFL history with 17,357 all purpose yards. He played for 10 years. Do the math. That's more than men named Thurman Thomas and Tony Dorsett, to name a couple. He eclipsed 2,000 yards from scrimmage 4 times. He led the league in yards from scrimmage twice, including 2005 when he had an insane 2390 and was a mere 40 yards shy of Marshall Faulk's all-time record. He owns 17 franchise records, inlcuding an incredible 80 consecutive games leading his team in rushing. If that's not consistency I don't know what is. He's one of only 3 players in the history of the game with 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards. The other two are Marshall Faulk and Marcus Allen. Think about that.
In my opinion, the Giants will never again have a player like Tiki Barber. Bigger, faster, stronger, and maybe even more prolific players will come and go, but as fans we'll never see someone with the combination of talents that Tiki brought to the field. If you want to look beyond the numbers, just ask yourself how many times you watched a mediocre Giants team be carried against their will to victory by one single player. I can't tell you how many times I would say to myself "If it weren't for Tiki..." after a Giants victory. Looking at the total body of work that he put together in his 10 years as a Giant, it's impossible for me not to applaud the man. His career accomplishments put him in the company of the all-time greats, and it's my belief that despite his flaws as a man, he belongs in the company of the New York Giants and their fans as well. Tiki Barber the man is hardly a role model, but enshrinement into the Ring of Honor is about Tiki Barber the player, and if he doesn't deserve a hand, none of them do.