On Sunday, about a half-hour before Carolina began making all who watched believe the Panthers are the greatest fifth-seeded wild-card team in playoff history, a very hyped Pat Hanlon, the Giants’ VP of communications, was doing his weekly segment on WFAN’s pregame show.
“I told (Tom) Coughlin this morning that the best piece of advice I’ve ever given you is don’t read the damn newspapers in New York,” Hanlon said. “Because if you read them you will go crazy.”
Yesterday, Coughlin must have violated Hanlon’s rule. The coach was upset over Tiki Barber not following his postgame spin, designed to emphasize regular season accomplishments rather than a stone embarrassment. Instead of being an accomplice in Coughlin’s fantasy, Barber dealt in his own reality following Carolina schooling the Giants, 23-0.
Coughlin was not the only one upset. Some commentators, both print and electronic, took Barber to task. “Win and lose as a team,” said WFAN’s Mike Francesa. “That (Barber’s comment) is out of line.”
“Do I need to hear Tiki Barber go up on the podium and basically throw the (Giants) coaching staff under the bus?” Chris (Mad Dog) Russo asked. “… You’ve got to keep your mouth shut. Nobody wants to hear it.”
Some did. Especially if you value the truth and a player who, instead of dishing the usual postgame rhetoric, expresses a strong opinion. An opinion that departs from the company line and perhaps some team-first double-secret code of silence. The coach said Barber committed the sin of finger-pointing. Yesterday, after convincing Barber to issue a public mea culpa, Coughlin, in rather haughty tones, defended his flawed game plan.
Still, if Barber fumbled four times in a playoff game, and one drop set up a winning score, would Coughlin come to his defense? Would Coughlin ignore the crucial fumbles in his postgame comments?
There is some schizophrenia involved here, too. In October, after the Yankees were eliminated in the playoffs by the Angels, a segment of the media, including Messrs. Francesa and Russo, were ticked because no big-name Bombers, most notably Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, showed up at Yankee Stadium to talk to media types who camped out there. Now, the same sports scholars have a problem with Barber, who not only talked after a dreadful elimination loss, but provided a verbal feast.