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Eli and Tiki battle -- but not for inches
By GREG STEPHENS, MOP Squad Sports Staff Writer
Aug 23, 2007 - 11:09:56 PM

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It’s often been said that football is a battle of inches.   Recently, Tiki Barber, the former Giant and current television analyst had surprisingly harsh comments about his former teammate, Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Those comments cast doubt about Manning’s ability to lead an offense.

Eli Manning hands off to running back Tiki Barber during the first quarter of the Giants' 27-13 victory over Carolina Dec 10, 2006. (Chris Keane / Reuters)

Eli quickly responded with very juvenile retorts about Tiki’s comments about Giants coach Tom Coughlin last season, Tiki’s decision to announcement his retire mid-season, and Tiki’s lost ‘heart to play the game’.


Eli Manning should learn to pick his battles a little more judiciously.   He cannot win this battle with the most prolific running back in Giants history.


Eli is on a short leash when it comes to the fans of New York as it is.   Many of them look at the Rivers-Manning trade and believe the Giants came out on the short end of the stick.   Rivers has experienced phenomenal success in San Diego, but, in fairness to Manning, has been surrounded by one the top three running backs in history and a solid defense that has shut down virtually every team it has faced.


Added to the second-guessing of the Rivers trade is the fact that Manning is sticking up for a lame-duck head coach that is not liked in New York and will not be returning next season.   Taking the side of Coughlin over a treasured legend such as Barber is much like siding with Enron over its bilked investors.


Manning may not be making friends in the locker-room with this battle, either.   The Giants organization is one of the most disjointed teams in the NFL.   To say Coughlin is not a ‘coaches player’ is like saying President Bush is not a friend of the Democrats.    Eli Manning criticizing a long-time leader such as Tiki Barber and siding with the dictatorial Coughlin will not help him pull the team to rally around him.   Add in the confusion caused by Michael Strahan’s disappearing act and you have a perfect formula for a dismal 5-11 record this season.


The real battle for Eli has nothing to do with Tiki Barber.   Eli has many demons to overcome.   Being the son of Archie and the brother of Peyton puts an amount of pressure of Eli that no one else can imagine, including Tiki.   There hasn’t been a day go by in his career, since draft day, that he hasn’t been compared to the shadows of his famous relatives.


Plus, Eli needs to come to grip with the fact that Tiki was right.   Perhaps Eli didn’t appreciate the manner or forum in which the issue came to the public, but he can’t deny that Tiki told the truth.   No one has stepped forward to deny Tiki told the truth.   The only person, predictably, that came to Eli’s defense was big brother Peyton, and that was an obligatory, half-hearted attempt to look like the supportive older sibling.   No other current or former Giant has spoken and said that Tiki was crazy and didn’t know what he was talking about.


If Eli Manning wants to shut up Tiki Barber, there is one way to do so:   perform on the field.   If Eli has another season like he’s had the past couple, the Giants will not make the playoffs and everyone will say, “Tiki was right.”   Manning needs to get Tiki out of his head and get his own head back in the game.   Maybe he was a three year starter in high school and college, as Peyton pointed out, but that doesn’t make him an NFL level quarterback.   That’s the real battle he needs to fight at this point.


Copyright 2007 - MOP Squad Sports

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