Tiki Barber isn’t the only one, just the most recent one.
Yes, he’s yet another former NFL player racing to the rescue of league owners caught up in their despicable track record of minority hiring.
Barber, the former New York Giants running back, got emotional when defending the Mara family on his New York radio show. Barber was almost in tears.
His beloved team was named in an ugly class-action racial discrimination suit by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores. He called his job interview with the Giants, “a sham.”
“I just don’t think that the Maras, who I’ve known for 25 years, are racists,’’ Barber said. “I’m not willing to scream and yell that the Giants, an organization that I revere, that I had a great relationship with, to say that they’re racists simply because they haven’t had a Black head coach or a Black quarterback.”
This has happened time and time again. Black players have shown up just in time to give these bad owners/offenders a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.
They are the mouthpieces for teams. They are sent out to paint a different tale. And why wouldn’t they? They want to keep suite access, continue to get goodie bags and stay on the Christmas card list.
It’s downright shameful.
This isn’t about feelings. It’s about facts.
The mistake Barber — and other players like him — make is that they are so caught up about how they were treated.
It’s not about them, though. Often, you can tell how genuine people are about how they treat people they DON’T know. That’s the true test, especially when it comes to minority hiring. Your track record speaks volumes.
And just because someone treated you right doesn’t mean they treated other people who look like you the same way. It’s just dumb to assume that.
It would have been nice for Barber to have that same kind of passion and energy for the real issue: a Black league with a terrible minority hiring record.
Heck, MLB has more Black managers (two) than the NFL has Black head coaches (one). Baseball is eight percent Black. The NFL is over 70 percent Black. Simply shameful.
There must have been some NBA players who felt the same way in 2014 when the walls were coming down on then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling. And you can bet there were people out there saying Sterling can’t be a racist. After all, he owns an NBA team and the roster is over 75 percent Black and he pays these Black players millions of dollars.
And then the infamous tape comes out and you find out that Sterling isn’t fond of Black people and has disparaging stuff to say about an entire race of people. Eventually, he was forced to sell his team.
The bottom line is that the Giants should be a more inclusive franchise in the most-diverse city in the country. Granted, they had a Black general manager. Jerry Reese helped win two Super Bowls. Still, their record is pretty horrendous. Despite 97 years of existence, the Giants have never hired a Black head coach. Heck, the New York Jets have hired two Black head coaches in far less time. Worse, the Giants have only had five Black assistant coaches in also a century.
Those numbers are embarrassing and unacceptable.
And those numbers should be exposed after the sham interview the Giants pulled with Flores, who was fired in Miami after back-to-back winning seasons.
They went along with a phony interview, although Patriots coach Bill Belichick had mistakenly texted Flores to congratulate him on getting the job. That text was supposed to be for Brian Daboll.
The only problem was Flores hadn’t interviewed yet. The day after he did interview with New York, the franchise named Daboll head coach.
Somehow, Barber saw nothing sleazy about it.
Tony Dungy, the former NFL Super Bowl-winning coach with the Colts, has been one of those guys like Barber. Whenever the NFL is in hot water, especially dealing with a race issue, Dungy would appear to save a guy’s reputation.
Enter Jon Gruden.
When emails first surfaced with bigoted stuff linked to Gruden, Dungy went on NBC and defended the then-Las Vegas Raiders coach. “I’m not gonna chalk everything up to racism. I think we accept his apology, move forward and move on just like he did with this team,” he said.
Less than 24 hours after Dungy vouched for Gruden, a whole new batch of offensive emails became public.
Dungy then changed his tune on Twitter. “Now more emails have come. More inappropriate, immature, wrongful attack on the character of people from all walks of life. I don’t defend those either and given the apparent pattern of behavior, the Raiders did the appropriate thing in terminating Jon Gruden.”
You hear that Barber?
A pattern of behavior.
That’s what the Giants’ hiring history is after nearly 100 years.
Yet, Barber wants us to believe it’s just happenstance. Only a naive former player trying to stay in the team’s good graces would buy it.