Yahoo.com's Tiki Barber appeared on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" Wednesday, where he addressed the booing he received from Giants fans upon being announced during Sunday's Ring of Honor ceremony.
Excerpts, via CBS p.r.:
On being booed during Ring of Honor introduction:
It’s going on four years now that they are booing me. It stems from how I left the New York Giants. As you guys know, I retired at the top of my career. A lot of people didn’t want me to leave because of how effective I had become as a player. And I went directly into the broadcast booth, something I had been doing for a long time. Eight years of my playing career I was dancing that line of being broadcaster/player. Then I never wanted to compromise myself as a broadcaster by being overly friendly to the organization.
On taking on former teammates and coaches:
Antonio (Pierce) doesn’t like me because I criticized him for blowing an air horn when he got asked questions for how poorly the Giants defense was playing. That is just unprofessional. I’ll tell it how it is. I think that one of the issues with Giants fans is that I don’t sugarcoat anything. I never wanted to come into broadcasting and be the guy who says a whole lot but says nothing. I have always wanted to be succinct and to the point about what my opinion is, based on what my experiences are. If people hate me for that, they hate me. I have never been someone who said you have to love me in order to do my job. Or you have to hate me in order to do my job. I just want to tell the truth as I’ve experienced it.
On whether he considered not going on the field for the Ring of Honor:
I never hesitated wanting to go back when John Mara called me and invited me. Because I know what the environment’s like. I knew I was going to get booed, but it didn’t bother me. I know what I did as a player. I know that I left every bit of myself on that football field and I would challenge anybody who ever watched me play to say anything otherwise…If people don’t want to hear those answers don’t ask me the question, because I am just going to say it like it is.
On whether he wants to repair what’s going on:
I would love for people to judge and talk about my career as a Giant, not as a broadcaster. And it’s hard to separate obviously because I am so recently removed from being a player. So there is still that association as me retiring before they won the Super Bowl and criticizing them that year because they had a lot to work on. But the bottom line, I never said Tom (Coughlin) was a bad coach. He and I have our issues. He knows why we have our issues. I know why we have issues together. But I’ve never said he was a bad coach. I think he’s a great coach. He just needed to learn how to treat his players differently and he’s done that.
On retiring the year before the Giants won the Super Bowl:
I didn’t want to do it anymore. To be honest with you, you guys know this. If you get a toxic guy in your locker room who doesn’t want to play the game, and is one of your stars, you are going to sabotage the team. Maybe not intentionally, but you will. I honestly believe that Eli (Manning) needed to become the leader of this offense in order for them to be successful. As long as I was there, that wasn’t going to happen, because I was the focus. I demanded attention. I wanted the ball because I knew I could be effective. When the Giants were able to re-configure their focus towards Eli being their leader, they won and they stayed healthy and they got hot at the right time.