Tiki Barber Backs His Statements

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tiki Barber isn't about to take back negative comments he made recently about his former team, though he did clarify one of his remarks about head coach Tom Coughlin.

In an interview with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show Thursday to promote his new book, Barber said although Coughlin was not the sole reason he retired from football this year after 10 seasons with the New York Giants, the often irascible coach was a contributing factor.

"People are looking for something concrete, one simple explanation of why I retired, and I'm not that simple, I'm not that shallow," he said. "It's a confluence of things. The pounding, the opportunity to do other things, the fact that I wasn't having fun doing it anymore.

"He is part of the reason why I retired from the game," Barber continued. "I have a choice and I lose no matter what. I can say nothing, which is cowardly, I can lie, which is immoral, or I can tell the truth, which will upset people."

In an excerpt from the book "Tiki: My Life in the Game and Beyond" obtained by the New York Daily News, Barber writes that he "might still be in a Giants uniform" if Coughlin had been fired after the 2006 season.

Coughlin has not responded publicly to Barber's comments.

Barber, a special correspondent for "Today," also will contribute analysis on NBC's Sunday night football broadcasts, also created a stir when he characterized as "comical" quarterback Eli Manning's attempts to become a team leader.

Manning countered by bringing up the distractions Barber caused when he announced his pending retirement during the season and later publicly questioned Coughlin's coaching decisions.

When asked by Lauer why he didn't tone down his remarks about Manning, Barber said, "NBC, Dick Ebersol, hired me to give my true opinions about what I believe is happening in a locker room. I wasn't ratting him out. And the intent of that comment was not to harm, it was to tell a story as I experienced it."

At least one of Barber's colleagues has been impressed by his candor. NBC football analyst Cris Collinsworth, also a former player, said, "I don't know that you can have it both ways, because the first thing everybody wants to do when they bring you out of uniform and put you in front of the camera is debrief you about your old team. It's just a fact of life.

"Would you prefer he says, 'You know, Tom Coughlin did an unbelievable job and my teammates are the best guys in the world?"' Collinsworth said. "All you would hear around the universe would be remotes going 'Click, click, click.' He's proven he's willing to say anything about anybody if it's what he truly believes. That's a pretty high standard, and I think he's crossed that threshold."

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