By Tiki Barber
Five years and one week ago, I famously had a falling out with my then head coach Tom Coughlin, the details of which are largely unknown – except by my fellow running backs and offensive linemen who were present.
For the most part, it has been misrepresented by the NY media, mainly because no one really bothered to ask. I won’t get into the full details, but the underlying gist was that I didn’t think that he was a “fair” coach, and we as New York Giants didn’t appreciate his lack of acknowledgement. Our spat concluded with him asking me if we were “good”…I said yes, and left, and then we went on to finish the season strong.
Now don’t read that as me saying that coach Coughlin is not a “good” coach, which I’ve always said that he is; however, I’ve just felt that his messages sometimes fit “his” agenda, not “our” agenda.
Two widely spanned examples for thought…
After the Giants put on a particularly poor performance against the Philadelphia Eagles two weekends ago, coach Coughlin came up to the press lectern and said, “We had 29 yards rushing, which is about as pathetic as you can get,” clearly placing the arrow directly at Brandon Jacobs and the Giants’ starting offensive line, as if they either aren’t good enough or weren’t trying hard enough. Now, he may have been right, but for someone who is prone to saying, “we have to keep our sh-t in-house,” it sounded a little outside the corps talking point.
Secondly, I’m going to go way back to when coach Coughlin first took over for a fired Jim Fassel. In his introductory press conference he stated that “injuries are a cancer,” later clarifying that he was talking about players milking injuries and not being tough enough. His argument had merit, but going on to say at the time, “It is something that has to be corrected. It is a mental thing I believe as much as anything else,” seems especially ironic given the numerous guys on IR this season, and the many more that haven’t reliably been on the field… Not to mention that the Giants’ play of late hasn’t exactly rang of mental toughness. So who takes that blame?
The Giants’ woes of late don’t fall squarely on the shoulders of one man. Just like the great successes of a team are attributable to many, so are the great failures. But it leaves us, as Giants’ fans, at an interesting intersection of opinion. The last three seasons have been marred by collapse. A once vaunted running game and stingy-aggressive defense have given way to mediocrity and Eli Manning being the only saving grace.
Hopes of dynastic Super Bowl runs have morphed into ‘let’s hope we win more than we lose.’ And in the midst of a three game losing streak, after consecutive ugly losses, and potentially on the verge of making it four with the undefeated Green Bay Packers next on the docket, how do we “fairly” evaluate Tom Coughlin?
Maybe I’m not qualified to answer that because I’m not in that locker room anymore; However, watching from afar, I get the feeling that things aren’t necessarily “all good” over at MetLife Stadium.
Tiki Barber is a former running back for the New York Football Giants. He played 10 seasons with the Giants, and holds every major team rushing record, amassing a total of 10,449 rushing yards and is one of only three running backs in NFL history with 10,000 yards rushing, 500 receptions and 5,000 yards receiving (Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk). Tiki has a long history in broadcast and internet media, with stints at Fox News, NBC News and Sports, and Yahoo! Sports. You can contact / follow Tiki on his new Twitter account @Barber_Tiki