If you eliminate O.J. Simpson, Dave Meggett or any other former player who did something seriously awful after leaving the game, it is hard to imagine a player who has done more damage to a once-solid reputation than Tiki Barber.
Barber left the Giants as a player admired for his ability to go from fumble-prone underachiever to reliable workhorse and as a guy who everyone thought was destined for big things in his post-football career. He had the magic trifecta of media-savvy, good-looks and ambition working for him in a town that reveres that combination above all else.
Then came one hit after another. His inability to do anything on television other than slam Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning helped ease him off the air on Sunday Night Football and then his decision to ditch his wife for a younger model made him a tabloid whipping boy. Capping things off was his assault on Coughlin earlier this season just before he was inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honor.
Barber asserted that the Giants were "definitely slipping away" from Coughlin, a point of view that marred what should have been a nice ceremony with incessant booing. Much like Barber's earlier rips, this one proved to be completely untrue as the Giants rattled off five straight wins to become the prettiest girl at the fair halfway through the NFL season. In light of this, Barber has decided to try, try again with his latest commentary for Yahoo! Sports.
His choice for Coach of the Year is none other than Coughlin and the bandwagon jumper of all bandwagon jumpers explains his rationale this way.
"Five wins in a row … after starting the season looking for his job, the Coach of the Year is Tom Coughlin. He has the team playing unbelievable. I always said he's a good coach. Now he's finally proven it."
We'll pause for you to stop laughing and/or shaking your head in disbelief that Barber said with a straight face that he's always called Coughlin a good coach. While you're at it, add another guffaw for the assertion that he's finally proving he's a good coach.
Coughlin proved he was a good coach years ago when he took an expansion team to the playoffs in four of its first five years of existence. He further cemented it by winning with the Giants and he put the icing on the cake when he won a Super Bowl. Barber, unlike Michael Strahan, has never been able to separate his own dislike for Coughlin from the facts about his coaching acumen.
This would be more bothersome if it was possible to think Barber believed anything he was saying, but he's just screaming into the wind in a desperate attempt for someone to take him seriously again. Unless the whole world gets an anvil dropped on its head, it is hard to see that happening, though.