Tiki's ready to talk the talk

BILL HARRIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

There are three things Tiki Barber wants you to get straight:

No. 1: He likes New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin as a man, but he truly hates Coughlin's coaching style.

No. 2: He never quit on his teammates last year and his stats back that up.

No. 3: Now that he's an NBC broadcaster instead of an NFL running back, he understands the difference between criticizing a player -- like, say, Giants quarterback Eli Manning -- and burying him.

In a wide-ranging interview with Sun Media, Barber clarified his positions on a number of fronts, starting with Coughlin.

"That's not true," Barber said forcefully when it was suggested most of the Giants dislike their coach. "I like Tom personally. I don't like the way he coaches, which is two completely separate things.

"My son suffers from febrile seizures, I suffered from them, my brother, my father. You grow out of it, but you don't get used to it as a parent. One year we played Philly in the first game and my wife called at halftime and said my son had a seizure. Tom said, 'Tiki, if anything ever happens, if you need me to send anybody over there, if you just need to go, you can go.' Personally, I had a great relationship with Tom. But I did not like the way he coached."

NIT-PICKING

What was it particularly?

"He doesn't believe in positive reinforcement," said Barber, 32. "It's always negative, nit-picking at things. Especially for a guy like me, a 10-year veteran who was invested in the Giants, success probably more so than he was, to be treated the way I was -- like a 22-year-old kid who didn't get it -- wasn't right.

"For strong-willed people like myself, Jeremy Shockey, it doesn't sit well. I think (Coughlin) gets it from coach (Bill) Parcells, but coach Parcells was a master of it. He would have this guise that he was treating everybody like that, but privately he wasn't."

Barber caused a stir recently when he described Manning's attempts to be a vocal leader last season as "comical." That prompted the controversy-shy Manning to fire back that Barber wasn't the best of leaders last year, either, given his leaked retirement plans.

"The past two seasons I'd come home, my kids would want to go to the park, and I just did not feel like it," Barber said. "Physically I could not make myself do it. I started thinking, 'When I'm 45, am I not going to be able to throw a ball around with my kids?'

"Honestly, I wanted to be Jerome Bettis. I wanted to go out that way, win a Super Bowl, retire, go to a network. I did all I could to make that happen and I think my teammates all recognized it."

Barber will be an analyst on NBC's Football Night in America pre-game show and on the Sunday Night Football halftime show. Both programs will be broadcast on TSN in Canada.

"I've been stepping on that line for five or six years now as a (part-time) broadcast journalist, but I still was a player," Barber said. "There was a line I couldn't cross. Now it's not there.

"But I want to be fair and not malicious. If I say, 'Eli Manning has done this before, he shouldn't have done it again, he made a mistake here, then I can't be faulted.' But if I say, 'Eli Manning has done this before, he just sucks now. it's a completely different thing."

Indeed it is. But no matter what he says or how he says it, Tiki Barber is adept at avoiding tackles.


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