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Why was Tiki Barber's agent on WFAN?

Former Giants running back Tiki Barber will work

Former Giants running back Tiki Barber will work as an analyst on a new show called "Big Blue Live." (Undated file photo) Credit: Getty Images

Remember that deliciously contentious interview Mike Francesa conducted Wednesday with Tiki Barber and his agent, Mark Lepselter?

Part of the fallout was criticism of Barber for having Lepselter on the air with him, as if the famously media-savvy former Giant needed to have his hand held.

I asked Lepselter Friday what was the behind the decision. Here is what he said:

"It's very simple. I had made it clear to [WFAN operations manager] Mark Chernoff and to Jim Rome’s people and anybody who called – we weren’t going to do many – that if you wanted Tiki, I was going to be on the line with him.

"It wasn’t Tiki’s request. Let me make that clear. I made a unilateral business decision. I don't want Tiki talking about NFL people or discussions that I may have had. I didn’t want him to get baited into that. And I didn’t want him talking about his separation from NBC because there’s a non-disclosure agreement involved.

"Also, frankly, I could clarify and articulate certain things that maybe Tiki was talking about, and it could be pertaining to his personal life and other things. They’re all fact, no different from what I said on HBO was all fact. But that was a prerequisite.

"If you didn’t want us, you didn’t want us. It’s OK. We’ve had dozens of requests over the past few months. There’s no shortage of opportunities to talk. But that was the parameters and I made that clear from the get-go.

"Mike [Francesa] and I spoke on Tuesday morning. [ESPN's] 'Mike and Mike' said they didn’t want me on. I said no problem. Meaning, we didn’t go on. The one thing that Mike said that was incorrect was that it was at Tiki’s request. You can believe it or not, but it was a business decision that I made.

"People are going to formulate opinions regardless. Most people are uninformed when they make their assumptions. That’s the reason I was on the phone. I made that clear."

On whether the decision made Barber look bad:

"People who don’t like Tiki are going to have issues no matter what. I think all three of us walked away with a level of respect for one another. Tiki and I have respect for Mike. I hope Mike has the same respect for us.

"I was a man of my word. I told Mark Chernoff he'd get the first radio interview, and I kept my word. Whether the discussion got heated or not, that’s business."

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