Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 05-23-18

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein

First of all, the players in the NFL will not have to embarrass themselves by kneeling or raising clenched fists during the playing of the National Anthem, when they are supposed to pay respect to the American flag.

The NFL's owners decided Wednesday that those who do not choose to exercise that honor may remain in the locker room until the ceremony is completed.

How nice for them.

Also, the Giants seem to have extended an olive branch to former tar running back Tiki Barber, or at least head coach Pat Shurmur has, by agreeing to "patch things up" and bestow the respect accorded to other former star players

. And doesn't that just thrill all of you?

"My problem wasn't with the organization," Barber said. It was really just [head coach] Tom Coughlin. This is meaningful, and I always respected the way the Giants treated their former players. All those guys were always around."

One might question his alleged problem with Coughlin, however. All he did was spend lots of extra time schooling Tiki how not to fumble, which was his major problem en route to a possible release. He turned him into one of the best running backs in the league, the guy who still holds all the Giants' meaningful rushing records.

Drafted in the second round of 1997 out of Virginia, Barber played through the 2006 season, when he suddenly announced during the middle of that season that he planned to retire.

He played for head coach Jim Fassel through 2003, then for Coughlin through 2006. It is only fair to point out that his best three seasons in terms of production were 2004, 2005 and 2006 - his Coughlin years - when he gained, in order, 1,860 yards, 1,662 yards and 1,518 yards.

In his Giants' career, he amassed 10,449 yards in 2,217 carries and scored 55 rushing touchdowns. He holds nine team rushing records and three all-purpose yardage marks. Among his records are yards per season yards per game, most 100-yards rushing (career), longest run from scrimmage and most all-purpose yards in a season and a career.

"It was about a week before Super Bowl that I had a message on my answering machine and I didn't recognize the number," he said. As it turned out, it was Shurmur, who said he wanted to "say hello and make a connection."

Welcome back, sort of. He is already enshrined in the team's Ring of Honor in MetLife Stadium, so there isn't much more the team can do for him. And he'll still be booed when he appears on the field or when his exploits are flashed on the scoreboard.

A reporter remembers riding the train to Washington, D.C., for a Giants-Redskins game, and in the same car was Mr. Tiki, who had already embarked on a brief, non-productive career as a sideline reporter for NBC. This was in 2008, and three young guys recognized him.

They came over enthused and excited, shook his hand, asked him several questions and praised him for his stellar career. This all took about 15 minutes, and then they left. Except one kid came back and said: "Mister Barber, can I ask one more question?"

Naturally, he said to go ahead.

"Would you show me your Super Bowl ring [from 2007, his first retirement season?"


Tiki also spent some time publicly criticizing quarterback Eli Manning, Coughlin, defensive end Michael Strahan and the team. He called Eli "incompetent" and poked fun at what the huddle must sound like with him in charge.

Hey, forget it, Tiki. Welcome back.

The other matter, the NFL's decision on those who disrespect the flag and the anthem, is far more important and cuts much deeper. The new rule states that if a player is going to raise a fist or take a knee he is to inform his coach and then remain in the locker room until the presentation is done.

Any player on the field exhibiting such behavior during the ceremony will incur a fine on his team - one that will almost certainly be passed down to the player or players.

There is an easier way, of course.

Release them.

EXTRA POINTS - The Giants signed free agent wide receiver Russell Shepard, who has five years of NFL experience. ... He was a free agent signed by Tampa Bay in 2013 and spent four years there, putting in time last season in Carolina (aha, another Dave Gettleman connection). ... He is 6-1 and 195 and a former college teammate of Odell Beckham Jr. at LSU.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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