The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro has grown weary of Tiki Barber (above) and Michael Strahan “speaking as if they have safe-deposit boxes stuffed with championship rings.”
Some of the media around the Giants have grown weary at their regular lectures, for all those times – most recently with Barber last week, and Be A Man Strahan on Wednesday afternoon – when they tell us how to do our jobs. I have no problem with that, actually, because what do sports reporters do if not tell them how to dotheir jobs? Quid pro quo.
The difference is, we don’t dabble in this stuff. We second-guess for a living. We do it full time. We rip and have to stand behind what we say, so whoever we rip stays ripped. We don’t have to answer to a coach we’ve just compared (unfavorably) to a rocket scientist, as Tiki Barber did last week. We don’t have to resort to bullying techniques the way Be A Man Strahan did Wednesday afternoon, asked only to defend the very words he uttered (for pay) on the radio two days earlier.
Pat Riley once famously said of being part of a team, “You’re either in or you’re out.” There is no no-man’s-land. But in this odd buffer of Barber’s career, of Strahan’s career, all they seek is middle ground. They dip the occasional toe in the deep waters of candor, they want you to believe they are the last honest men, but they aren’t yet ready to quit scurrying back to the safe cocoon of the clubhouse. They want it both ways in a sporting landscape where the First Amendment is this: You can’t have it both ways. You’re with us, or with them. You’re either in or you’re out.
Though Strahan hardly covered himself in glory this week, Vaccaro does the readership a tremendous disservice by lumping in Barber with Dr. Ian Smith’s platonic friend. Tiki’s measured critique of Colonel Coughlin wasn’t nearly as inflammatory as Vacarro and his colleagues made it out to be, and if the running back tried to change the subject or pretend he’d misquoted himself two days later, I must’ve missed it. Curiously, during a week in which Post “columnist” Jeremy Shockey provided the Cowboys with bulletin board material (the same Shockey, btw, who once called Bill Parcells “the homo”), the paper’s most pointed criticism is reserved for Barber and Strahan.
Vaccaro is correct in stating the print media second-guesses for a living. But he’s slightly delusional if he doesn’t believe the likes of Barber and Strahan are under far greater scrutiny in their line of work than the majority of sportswriters. Mistakes, on or off the field, are magnified, replayed and ridiculed for Barber and Strahan. When Vacarro phones it in (a little more often than Tiki does, I’d argue), there’s not nearly as much outcry.