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Tiki Barber (21) and Eli Manning during a New York Giants game in 2006.
AP file photo
Tiki Barber (21) and Eli Manning during a New York Giants game in 2006.

Angry Manning has a few words for Barber

By Tom Canavan
Associated Press Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. — Tiki Barber wanted a more intense, fiery Eli Manning. The New York Giants quarterback gave Tiki what he wanted in a loud ripping voice Tuesday.

Two days after being criticized on national television by Barber for a lack of strong leadership, Manning ripped his former teammate and current NBC football analyst for distracting the team last season with his early retirement announcement and his criticism of coach Tom Coughlin.

“I guess I’m just happy for Tiki that he’s making a smooth transition into the TV world,” Manning said. “You know, I’ll be interested to see if he has anything to say (about a team) besides the Giants, and what his comments will be on that.”

Normally reserved and never one to criticize a coach or teammate, Manning seemed to enjoy going after Barber, who retired after last season at age 31 to pursue a television career.

Speaking during the halftime show of the Sunday Night Football game between the Giants and Baltimore Ravens, Barber had said that Manning’s attempt to lead an offensive meeting in the 12th week of the last season was “comical” at times. Manning didn’t find the comment funny.

“It’s just one of those deals. I’m not going to lose any sleep about what Tiki has to say,” Manning said. “I guess I could have questioned his leadership skills last year with calling out the coach and having articles about him retiring in the middle of the season, and he’s lost the heart (to play).

“As a quarterback you’re reading that your running back has lost the heart to play the game and it’s about the 10th week,” Manning said. “I can see that a little bit at times. But I’m not going to get concerned. I’m going to go out there and play ball.”

Barber was not immediately available for comment.

Giants teammates came to Manning’s defense on Tuesday.

Amani Toomer, who played his entire career with Barber, was stunned.

“I thought Tiki and Eli were pretty good friends,” Toomer said. “It’s kind of strange to have him say something like that and to make a point of it like that. Maybe he had somebody else in his ear kind of coaxing him into saying stuff, because I don’t believe he really believes that. I don’t know why he’d say something like that.”

Manning’s father, Archie, said at a charity bowling event in Indianapolis for his other son, Super Bowl MVP Peyton, that he had not counseled the Giants quarterback on how to handle the situation.

“He talked to me a while ago and said Tiki got after him a little bit the other night, and he said it’s not a big deal,” Archie Manning said. “He told me a whole lot of people in the Giants organization were proud of what he said. ... I feel like if Eli did something like that, it would come from his heart.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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