Best Seat in the House

If ever there were a day when an obstructed-view seat would have been acceptable, it would have been last week. Be honest. Was there really any need to have full view of the field during the Giants-Cowboys debacle?

Long pause.

Longer pause.

Excruciatingly long pause.

Sorry, but I've just been penalized five paragraphs for delay of ideas. And I was so close to paydirt!

Hey, I just wanted Eli to know that he isn't alone. Sometimes the ideas check in but don't check out before the whistle blows.

So what should we talk about this week?

I heard a rumor that Terrell Owens asked for directions to the Giants Stadium end zone and was told to take a right on Madison because that seemed to be the most direct route.

Oh, enough of this sarcasm. I don't want to be typecast as a sourpuss, someone who stands on a podium long enough to answer two questions after a loss, if you know what I mean.

That's what head coaches and defensive ends are for.

That's not me. I don't have a podium in my living room. Zoning laws are strict here in the leafy suburbs of Connecticut where stock options fall from trees like acorns in the autumn.

It's more of a pulpit. And my boss here says I can bang on it anytime I want to.

While the Giants figure out how to use Shockey and Plaxico – on the same day, maybe even the same drive – I want to talk about Tiki Barber.

It's not because he had anything to do with the loss against the Cowboys, even though I suspect he may have figured out how to help avoid it if he were still playing.

It's because I've enjoyed, in a disgusted kind of way, listening to the critics pick at Tiki in absentia this season. Many are suggesting that his outspoken nature screeched against the Giants blackboard, that it should be considered partly responsible for the team's downfall last year and its absence a reason for the team's rise this year.

Goodness gracious, you'd think the guy was Joe Montgomery listening to the way people are treating him this season.

Give me a break, Vinny from Bensonhurst. How many games would the Giants have won the last three years without Barber in the backfield?

I have always believed that a professional athlete should kneel and kiss the cement in Times Square [with disinfectant wipes within reach] on the day they are drafted by a New York team, even one that plays its games in New Jersey.

It is the place where opportunity for advancement grows faster than even mold. The best of everything is within reach of a focused athlete, especially because he usually has the money to afford it and access to touch it.

The smart ones aspire to take advantage of business opportunities. The dumb ones think they are in business hanging out in strip clubs.

How do you think Frank Gifford liked playing for the Giants? Joe Namath in Detroit? Do you think Jesse Palmer would have had the opportunities he had in television if he were a backup in Jacksonville?

How do you think the profiles of David Wright, Derek Jeter, David Lee and Brian Leetch, to name a few, would have been altered if they played their careers in Detroit, Milwaukee, Portland or Columbus?

Hey, I work for a newspaper in Connecticut. I know all about how the pecking order works in the big city [and I don't mean Waterbury].

Tiki Barber always understood how fundamentally fortunate he was and good for him. If he were one step ahead on the field, he was two steps ahead of everyone off it and now he is reaping the benefits.

Granted, I never expected to see the day when he'd be talking about presidential body language on "Fox and Friends," driving Cadillacs and eating Power Bars in commercials, talking to Bill O'Reilly and Charlie Rose, visiting Hurricane Katrina victims or doing the cha-cha with a beautiful dancer with great calf muscles in a tight black dress on The Today Show.

Who knew he'd write children's books and another strictly for adults with some up-close-and-personal disclosures about his career? And wasn't that him on the radio, sitting next to Bob Costas on NBC, adjusting his pocket silk at another charity function at The Regency?

I'm not saying he's perfect. What I am saying is he developed the perfect plan for his life.

During the time of his life he spent answering questions – as opposed to asking them – he was always as honest and forthcoming as he could be without violating too many of those rules of comportment that exist to stifle individualism in professional locker rooms and clubhouses.

Tiki understood where he wanted life to take him after his football career was done. What good would it have done him if he were disingenuous with the media he aspired to be a part of?

He would not grab a microphone perceived as a fraud, like many of his fellow athletes who suddenly embrace the camera as they near retirement after spewing venom at the press during their careers.

I see a guy like that making jokes poolside, surrounded by models in bikinis, on some cable station during Super Bowl week, and I'm thinking only one thing:

Get me my remote.

I see Tiki reporting from Virginia Tech the day after the massacre and I'm thinking:

Good for him.


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