Tiki Barber, former New York Giants star running back and current co-host of ‘Tiki & Tierney’ on WFAN Sports Radio, was my guest Thursday on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. We talked about the Giants, the Rooney Rule, his reception upon returning to New York, Eli Manning and even his role on ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey.’
Here are some of the takeaways.
His relationship with Giants fans ...
That has always been a complicated one. Barber even got booed at his Giants Ring of Honor ceremony. He said before beginning the WFAN show in January that he expected some pushback. So, how has that been?
“It’s been great. I’m upfront. I’m out in the open. I don’t run from my history. If you an issue they call and we talk it out. I think over the last month or so New Yorkers have gotten a chance to hear directly from me, which has in some cases changed their opinion in a lot of ways. We’ve gotten a lot of calls about that very issue, and it’s all been good,” Barber said.
“I have a passion for the New York Giants. I love this organization and I always will. They created an opportunity for not just on the field, but really the things that have happened after that have made a career.
“I love Giants fans. I love the passion. I was booed when I was playing. I get it. It’s all about being positive and being productive, and that’s how I live my life and that’s how I always will.”
On the start of the Joe Schoen/Brian Daboll era ...
“You’ve gotta give credit to the Maras and the Tisches for getting this process right. You go back to really my time when Ernie Accorsi was the general manager and as soon as he retired you turned right into Jerry Reese, who has two Super Bowls to his credit. And then when that started to break down they went right back to a sort of internal candidate as well in Dave Gettleman,” Barber said. “You could tell it was starting to get stale and the successes weren’t happening via draft or free agency. To look outside the organization really for the first time in 25 years is something that you have to commend them on, and I think they did the process right in going after a proven, successful assistant general manager in Joe Schoen and then from there the coaching hire in Brian Daboll.”
Barber added that Daboll “Really was my first choice [for head coach], simply because of his ability to communicate, how he’s been able to craft an offense for Josh Allen and create this wide open, very successful Bills team over the last couple of years. I was excited for what that could mean for the New York Giants. In the first three weeks, I love the path they’re going.”
The Brian Flores lawsuit ...
“There really isn’t [a legislative fix]. At the end of the day owners are going to hire who owners want to hire. Even if they follow the Rooney Rule to the letter of the law they can still hire whoever they want to. That’s at its core,” Barber said.
“The Rooney Rule – it’s broken. It doesn’t work, and the reason it doesn’t work is because it injects candidates too far along in the process – a week or two weeks maybe before a head coaching hire is going to happen. You’re having a speed dating session with a coach, white coaches and Black coaches. But a lot of these Black coaches don’t have familiarity or don’t have the reputations that precede them for the general managers and the owners that are going to hire them.”
Racism in the NFL ...
Barber issued an impassioned defense of the Mara family last week. We had to delve into the topic.
“When you blanket accuse a specific body and in this case the NFL owners of being racist ultimately it’s going to be wrong because you don’t know everybody … Being labeled something simply because of the ineffectiveness of the diversity initiatives is wrong,” Barber said.
“I got a little emotional [on WFAN] about it. I lost my composure because of the caller who was imploring me to use my seat now at WFAN to scream racism by the league and I honestly just don’t believe that. I think the program is ineffective, it’s inefficient, but there has been progress with the Rooney Rule.
“Three or four years ago there was one minority general manager in the NFL. Now there are seven. And so it’s worked, to an extent.”
Eli Manning and the Hall of Fame ...
Barber has said in the past that he strongly believes Manning belongs in the Hall of Fame. He explained why:
“When you look at Eli if he just had that one championship in 2007 you’d of said you know what, he just got hot. He had a great run, he played his best football int he postseason, they beat the New England Patriots …. Tip of the cap to him, but he’s not really a Hall of Famer … But, the fact that it happened again, 2011, comes around, Eli Manning plays some of his best football in the postseason it no longer was an accident, right? You could tell what he does when the chips are down or when the pressure’s on.”
I also asked Barber to rank Ben Roethlisberger, Manning and Philip Rivers, the three great quarterbacks from the 2004 draft class. His order:
Give the full interview a listen below.
[NOTE: Former Giants running back Tiki Barber, alongside NYC-born Brandon Tierney, have come home to WFAN Sports Radio to bring Tiki & Tierney exclusively to the Big Apple audience. Tune in Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to hear them talking about all things New York sports. Click here to listen.]
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