After I previously wrote about Tiki Barber’s legacy and the fact that his career with the Giants is over due to his own verbal diarrhea, Eli Manning essentially confirmed this on the Dan Patrick Show. Manning said during a radio interview that the team would likely welcome back WR Plaxico Burress before RB Tiki Barber. “I think Plaxico would probably be welcomed back a little quicker,” Manning said. Manning added Barber left the team on a bad note, including multiple public criticisms of Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants coaching staff. On the other hand, Burress has fond memories of winning the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for him, he literally and figuratively shot himself in the foot.
Manning said he was effected by Barber’s criticism as a broadcaster after he left the team, although the criticism may have helped him become more vocal as a leader. Barber claimed that Manning’s speeches in the huddle were comical and non-assertive.
All of this simply confirms what we already knew. Barber did too much damage that is beyond repair.
It is fascinating to see and hear what people, specifically New York Giants’ fans and football fans in general, think about Tiki Barber. Generally speaking, fans only care about players’ performance on the field. The off-the-field shenanigans only gets brought into the equation when someone does something horrific, commits a crime, goes to prison, or is so completely outrageous that his personal life overshadows his athletic career. But deep down, there is a respect and appreciation for what a player did for your team during his career – usually. I am not so sure this is the case for former Giants’ running back Tiki Barber.
It is hard to believe that a player who holds almost every Giants rushing record in history could be booed on a night at Giants Stadium honoring him along with other all-time great franchise players. It is hard to believe that some people argue Barber’s departure was what catapulted the Giants to becoming Super Bowl champions in the 2007 season. It is hard to believe that people are so willing to castigate and judge a person who has not done anything illegal or so grossly outrageous like some other professional football players that are still revered despite their “mishaps.”
Now four years after his retirement from the NFL and a failed broadcasting career, Tiki Barber is looking to make a comeback at an age where very few running backs have ever had success. During an interview with HBO that aired on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Barber acknowledged that he now needs football more than it needs him. This is partially due to his failures off the field after he initially retired which led to an extremely long bout with depression.
“I remember there were days where I would literally wake up, have coffee, get something to eat and sit on the couch and do nothing for 10 hours,” said Barber to HBO.
Barber has spent the past four months working out in an attempt to make a comeback, although his chances rest on the league and its players reaching a new collective bargaining agreement. He said football represents a necessary anchor in a life turned upside down by the depressive aftermath of scandalous divorce and disintegration of his television career. Upon his retirement in 2006, Barber was on his way to an illustrious career in television beginning as a NBC football analyst for Football Night in America. Earning $2,000,000 per year, Barber progressed to having a featured role on the Today Show. But things did not turn out how Barber had envisioned, and he was eventually demoted and fired. This led to his bouts with depression.
“I crafted this career, right? And I had gotten to the point where I was right where I wanted to be and then I failed. It’s hard to deal with.”
In addition to his career struggles, he was also dealing with major strife in his personal life as his marriage had started to fall apart just months after he ended his ten-year playing career. Then his image as a “good guy” took a serious blow when he ended up moving in with Tracy Lynn Johnson while his wife was pregnant with twins. Even though Barber proclaimed that he had separated from his wife before he moved in with Johnson, the tabloids and media painted him as an adulterer. Barber did all he could to defend himself and his honor. He tried explaining that his wife getting pregnant was right in the middle of his marital problems, and things did not change for the better.
After retiring from the game he loved to play, then having his NBC career crash and burn, and then having his reputation and integrity shattered by the public’s perception of his failed marriage and new girlfriend, Barber sorely needed something to grab onto to change the cycle. That is when he was encouraged by friends and other players to attempt a comeback.
Assuming he is in game condition shape and works off a lot of the rust that may have accumulated over the past four years, Barber should get a shot on an NFL team to contribute. One option that is not going to be available to him is a return to the Giants. This is what is so disheartening about the whole situation, and Barber has no one to blame but himself. In an ideal world, this would be an amazing story of an all-time great player making a comeback to the only team he ever played for and being embraced as a returning hero. Unfortunately, there will be no storybook ending for Barber and the Giants. And there are many reasons why.
First, it should be noted that Barber truly is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Giants. Some of his career highlights include: one of twenty-one players to ever rush for over 10,000 yards; third player to ever rush for more than 10,000 and receive more than 5,000 yards; three-time Pro Bowl selection; first player in NFL history with 1,800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in one season; one of three players to ever have at least three 200-yard rushing games in one season; one of four players to have four 2,000 total yard seasons; third player in NFL history to be the career leader in both rushing yards and receptions with their team; and holds an NFL record of leading his team in rushing every game for 80 consecutive games from 2002 through 2006. He also holds practically every Giants team rushing record in history, despite not winning a Super Bowl.
So with a resume like that, how can this man not be revered by Giants fans? There are several examples of how Barber crossed the line and raised the ire of Giants players and fans. In 2002, Barber publicly criticized All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan’s negotiating stance on a new contract. Barber commented that Strahan was being selfish and greedy, a tact that fellow teammate Keith Hamilton took exception to as being a violation of a cardinal rule never to speak about other players’ contracts.
Additionally, Barber did not hide the fact that he disliked Tom Coughlin’s coaching style and demeanor. This, despite the fact that Barber saw his statistics and performance improve exponentially under Coughlin’s tenure. Nevertheless, after the Giants were handily shut out at home during the first round of the 2005 playoffs by the Carolina Panthers, Barber made post-game comments that he felt that the Giants were outcoached by Panthers’ head coach John Fox (the former defensive coach of the Giants). After receiving a lot of media attention about this comment, Barber apologized and insisted he only meant to convey that the Giants’ performance was unacceptable. Additionally, after a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2006 season, Barber criticized the team’s play-calling for abandoning the running game too soon. On the eve of what would be his last game with the Giants, Barber told ESPN that he is “demeaned and talked down to” by Coughlin. Taking it another step further, Barber attributed his decision to retire to Coughlin’s unrelenting style in practice.
“Coughlin pushed me in the direction of television. I don’t know if you realize this, but we were in full pads for 17 weeks, and with the amount of injuries that we had, it just takes a toll on you. You physically don’t want to be out there, when your body feels the way you do, in full pads.”
After he retired, Barber was interviewed just prior to the start of the 2007 season where he questioned Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s leadership abilities. Barber was quoted as saying that Manning’s motivational pre-game speeches sounded “almost comical.” Manning fought back in the media by bringing up Barber calling out the coaches and all of the articles written about his decision to retire in the middle of the season. After retiring without a Super Bowl victory, Barber seemed at peace with leaving the game without a championship ring. However, the very next season after he retired, the Giants went on a miraculous run to win Super Bowl XLII by defeating the then-undefeated New England Patriots for their third Super Bowl victory. Eli Manning led the game-winning drive down the field and was named MVP. At this point, Barber looked foolish for his caddy questioning of Manning’s leadership skills.
Since then, Barber has been the subject of Giants fans anger and dislike. When several Giants were honored during the last season at the old Giants Stadium, Barber received a chorus of boos when he was announced. He has even further tarnished his reputation with his mouth when he was quoted in the May 30, 2011 Sports Illustrated comparing hiding in his agent’s attic with his girlfriend so they wouldn’t get caught to Anne Frank hiding from the Nazis. I don’t think that Barber intended anything offensive by this comment, but it was another instance of him being unable to think before speaking and sticking his own foot in his mouth.
All of these things have added up to the point where Giants fans have ostracized Barber from their team. His accomplishments on the field have taken a back seat to what we think of him personally. No, he never committed a crime or spent time in prison. No, he never did anything so truly offensive to warrant extrication. But he had bitten the hands that fed him one too many times and attacked other beloved figures in the franchise. All of it seemed like sour grapes because deep down, it had to have killed him that the Giants won a Super Bowl the very next year after he retired.
Personally, I will always respect and admire Tiki Barber for what he accomplished on the field. He progressed from being a fumble-happy third down back to one of the premiere rushers of his and other generations. He was a warrior who played hurt and did whatever he could to help the team win. What he chose to do and say after his retirement is unfortunate because it has effectively ruined his reputation. But his legacy should always be that he was the greatest running back to ever wear Big Blue. His lack of championship rings and chronic case of verbal diarrhea does not negate the fact that #21 was one of the best ever. I thank Tiki Barber for his contributions to the Giants during his career and I only hope he finds success and happiness in returning to the NFL. Unfortunately, he has a lot of fences to mend before he is welcomed back by the Big Blue faithful.
In Jerry Reese we trust. Since Reese became the Giants’ general manager a few years ago, he has developed a well-deserved reputation as being one of the NFL’s best evaluators of talent at the top and bottom of the draft. Almost all of his draft picks have made the team and contributed on the field. Assuming there is an NFL season, 2011 looks like it will not be any different as the Giants drafted Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara with the 19th selection in the first round. Amukamara, the defensive player of the year in the Big 12 Conference, was surprisingly available for the Giants who gladly scooped him up.
In 2010, his senior season, Amukamara had 59 tackles and one sack. He did not have any interceptions, but that is more as a result of opposing teams refusing to throw in his direction – much like Derrelle Revis of the New York Jets. With Amukamara essentially negating his opposing team’s best receiver, the Cornhuskers allowed only 153.6 passing yards per game in 2010, which was the fewest in the Big 12 and the fifth lowest in the entire country.
Now the Prince comes to New York where he will likely step right in and play opposite Corey Webster forming a potentially formidable combination on the corners. Reese was thrilled to get Amukamara who he described as “big and fast, and a good tackler; a physical player.” Reese also acknowledged that he thought Amukamara “would get picked a lot higher than that.” Amukamara provided NFL-type defense while in college and received ringing endorsements from his coach, Bo Pelini, who thinks that he “has all the tooks to be an outstanding pro.” These tools will be put to the test as the Giants embark on their journey back to the playoffs after missing out the last couple years. Part of the reason for the Giants late season collapses was untimely defensive lapses and big plays allowed. Amukamara should help prevent that from happening again as he looks to establish the NFC’s version of “Prince Island.”
Besides having some personal medical issues this week (no worries – everything is fine now), it was not a good 7 days to be a fan of the sports teams that I root for. I have become immune and accustomed to disappointment when it comes to my sports allegiances (outside of a couple Giants’ Super Bowl victories over the last couple decades). But generally speaking, I normally don’t have much to root for in terms of my teams’ successes.
Starting last Monday, the news broke that Cliff Lee signed with his “mystery team”, the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course, this was bittersweet since at first I was elated when I heard the Yankees were out of the running for him. Like many others, I assumed this meant that Lee decided to re-sign with the Texas Rangers. But not only did he turn down the two known offers that were made, he actually approached the Phillies and ended up signing with them giving Philadelphia arguably the deepest and most talented starting rotation in baseball. All this means is that any chance the Mets had of winning 5 games against the Phillies in 2011 pretty much went out the window. The Mets were not going to compete for anything this season anyway, especially when the biggest news they have made is signing Ronny Paulino and D.J. Carrasco. But knowing that the already dominant Phillies just added another Cy Young Award winner to their staff for the next 5 years is pretty demoralizing. Every other team in the NL East has made moves and gotten better. The Mets have stood still with their hands in their empty pockets and now may be looking up at the Nationals from the cellar of the division.
So also last Monday, the Giants did win a Monday Night game against the Vikings in Detroit. That was very positive as it put them into a 1st place tie with the Eagles setting up the showdown this past weekend. I think we all know where this is going as the Giants pulled off a monumental, epic, titanic and catastrophic collapse against the Eagles by allowing 28 points in the last 8 minutes of the game. This is easily the worst loss in the Giants’ regular season history. From the breakdowns on offense, defense, special teams, and coaching, it was a team effort to allow the Eagles back into the game and let alone able to win it in regulation. Rookie punter Matt Dodge should be sent out of Dodge after the way he has performed this season and specifically at the end of this game. How and why he kicked the ball in bounds to DeSean Jackson is beyond anyone’s comprehension. But regardless of all that, the Giants still do control their own destiny for the playoffs as they can lock up the wild card by winning their own games. However, how will a collapse like this effect their performance and focus for the next couple weeks? This is where Tom Coughlin’s true grit, guts and value as a coach will shine through. He has to focus his team on next week and forget about what happened against the Eagles. Irrespective of whether the players can do that, the fans probably cannot do so that easily. I was laying in a hospital bed watching that debacle and nearly suffered from cardiac arrest from it. It was painful to watch as the Giants simply shut themselves down in all facets of the game. The sad thing is that in the back of my cynical mind, I still had a bad feeling about the game, even at 31-10 with 8 minutes left. I could just taste it in my mouth that something was going to go wrong, and it sure did.
Besides the Mets and Giants woes, I had to endure a mixed bag of emotions with the Knicks this past week as well. After defeating Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets last Sunday, the Knicks had themselves an 8-game winning streak heading into the biggest home games in a decade against Boston and Miami. The hype was all there as ESPN was prominently featuring the Knicks all week during their renaissance. So last Wednesday night, the Knicks were in control of the Celtics the entire game until the very last few seconds when Paul Pierce pierced the hearts of Knicks’ fans with his beautiful jump shot with .4 seconds left on the clock. As if that wasn’t enough, Amar’e Stoudamire then hit a 3-pointer just after the buzzer went off teasing us all. No matter what the result was, the overall consensus was that the Knicks had arrived and could hang with any team. They played their hearts out and provided one of the best NBA games in recent history. This all led towards the further hype of the game against Miami where LeBron James would make his MSG debut as a member of the Heat. After a wild and passionate first half, the Knicks found themselves tied with Miami at 57-57 and looking like they were going to be competitive all night. Then the 2nd half started and the Knicks proved to be no match for the Heat. Miami pulled away in the 3rd quarter and went on to a blowout victory. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night the Knicks went to Cleveland to the play LeBron’s former team and still couldn’t beat the Cavaliers. So after an 8-game winning streak and riding high, the Knicks now lost three in a row in heart-breaking and crushing fashion.
Sports is all about momentum – riding the high’s and surviving the low’s. It is the same for the players who play the games and the fans who cheer for them. This week was definitely a severe low for me personally with my sports allegiances. But after being used to such disappointment, this too will pass. It was just kind of amazing that there was a perfect storm of suck-titude between the Mets, Giants and Knicks. Oh yeah, I was also eliminated from the playoffs in both my fantasy football leagues. When it rains, it pours. Let’s just hope it doesn’t collapse the foam roof on top of my house.
` THE SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
John Doe v. Commissioner
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
AN ANONYMOUS FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Decided November 24, 2010
Cite as 2 F.J. 49 (November 2010)
The plaintiff has submitted this case without providing any information about his league. The record is devoid of the following details: type of fantasy football league (i.e., keeper or non-keeper, salary/auction, etc.), platform where the league is hosted (CBS, Yahoo, ESPN), number of teams, roster requirements, point scoring system, records and rosters of the teams involved in the proposed trade, league rules or Constitution, league schedule, and trade approval and/or appellate process.
The plaintiff was offered Vincent Jackson (WR-SD) in a trade in exchange for Eli Manning (QB-NYG). Plaintiff accepted the trade which was then reviewed by the league’s Commissioner. According to the plaintiff, the Commissioner approved the trade on the basis that the trade was “fair for both parties.”
At an undisclosed time after the trade was approved, the plaintiff discovered that this trade had been cancelled. He was not contacted at any time by the Commissioner or the team he traded with. No reason was provided by anyone through any means of communication to explain what happened with the trade and why it was cancelled.
The plaintiff now seeks the Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment’s opinion on whether the subject trade should be put through and its cancellation overturned. There have not been any additional submissions, evidence or testimony provided by anyone else in this fantasy football league.
Assuming the Commissioner has sole authority to approve or reject trades, he did not provide any notice either verbally or in writing that he was overturning his own decision to approve the trade. The plaintiff did not provide the Court with the league’s rules on trading, so the Court will have no choice but to make reasonable and prudent assumptions based on standard and customary fantasy football practices.
(1) Should the trade between the plaintiff and unnamed league member where the plaintiff acquired Vincent Jackson for Eli Manning be upheld and enforced?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades. The standard of review has been that people pay money to purchase a team in a league, draft their team, and manage it accordingly. Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness. See Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010).
Because the record is unclear, the Court must assume that the plaintiff and his fellow league members have paid money to participate in this fantasy football league. Therefore, the principles cited above will apply here where people are entitled to manage their teams how they see fit within the rules of the league and free from collusion.
The Court must always consider is whether there is any collusion or under-the-table dealings going on between teams. Since the Court has not been presented with any evidence or accusations of collusion, the Court concludes that there is no collusion between the plaintiff and any other league member.
At first glance, the trade of Eli Manning in exchange for Vincent Jackson looks fair and reasonable. Because the Court was not provided with the rosters of these two teams, it is impossible to determine whether the needs of both teams were met or whether each team was dealing from an area of strength and depth. The Court must look at the two players involved and what their fair market value is both before the trade and their projected benefits after the trade. Eli Manning is having a season with extreme highs and lows. He is on pace to shatter his previous personal records for yards and touchdown passes, but he is also on pace to throw more than 20 interceptions. Granted, several were not his fault as the Giants’ wide receivers were failing to catch passes and instead tipped balls to their opponents. But Eli Manning has never been known for his offensive prowess, especially compared to his brother. With the loss of standout wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks for the next several weeks, Manning’s value has decreased. On the flip side, Vincent Jackson is scheduled to make his 2010 debut with the Chargers on Sunday night against the Colts on national television. Having several successful years under his belt already, Jackson joins the team as the #1 receiver for one of the most prolific passing quarterbacks of this era in Philip Rivers. Jackson should immediately becomes Rivers’ primary target and the recipient of lots of yardage on Rivers’ way to reaching 5,000 yards by the end of the year.
Given that the trade was fair, the Commissioner approved the deal – which was the right decision. Then, for reasons unknown to this Court, the trade was cancelled, much to the chagrin of the plaintiff. Unless a trade is either offered or accepted under the influence of drugs or alcohol, coercion, violence, or threats thereof, people cannot undo their trades just because they may have second thoughts about it. A deal is a deal, especially with the Commissioner’s approval.
Based on the miniscule amount of evidence presented and the facts of this case, the Court holds that the subject trade should be allowed and enforced. The Commissioner’s decision to cancel the trade (or whoever else may be responsible) should be overturned.
IT IS SO ORDERED.