During the week of the Super Bowl this past winter, Tiki Barber got a call and a voicemail on his phone from a number he did not recognize.
“He left me a message and said: “Tik, I just wanted to call you and make a connection,’” the former Giants running back told Newsday.
It was from new Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who had been on the job for less than two weeks but already was cross-referencing the organization’s Rolodex and record book to reach out to a number of former players. Barber, for a long time after his retirement in 2006, was not exactly embraced as a Giant emeritus.
That, it seems, is changing.
“We’ve had a few conversations over the past couple of months,” Barber said on Tuesday in Manhattan at an event for Thuzio, a media company he co-founded. “I was struck by how calm he is. He’s just introspective, he’s thoughtful, and I appreciate that in a guy who has a very high-pressure job. At some point I’m going to go over and meet him in person, but I haven’t done that yet.”
Barber said he never felt like he had a rocky relationship with the Giants.
“It’s not really the organization, it was really just Coughlin,” he said of his former head coach. “It was Tom, not the organization. I have a really good relationship with John Mara and Jon Tisch and really everyone there. Ronnie Barnes and everybody in the front office. It was really Tom. We just never patched anything. It was still kind of hanging out there.”
Now, though, Barber seems to be back in the good graces of the only team he ever played for, the team for which he holds just about every rushing record there is.
“It’s meaningful,” he said. “The Giants do a really good job, and I remember this from when I was playing, of embracing their history. Carl Banks and those guys, Gary Reasons, all those guys were always around. Even Frank Gifford. Some of the coolest conversations I had were with Frank Gifford just hanging out. He would just come around. So to be back in that fold is kind of neat.”