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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    In Pursuit of Excellence: Leadership, Will, and Teamwork

    As Tiki Barber stood in front of a packed auditorium and spoke of the virtues of leadership, determination, and teamwork, I could not help but feel a strong sense of irony pervading’ the room. While watching almost every game Barber ever played in as a die hard New York Giants fan, it was easy to see he possessed a great deal of determination.

    Standing at only five feet ten inches tall and weighing 210 pounds, he took a beating that most guys four inches taller and 25 pounds heaver could not have handled. There is no doubting the determination he had to be the best he could be on the football field. ‘When you become successful, that’s when you start reaching down, pulling people up to stand on your shoulders because once you do that, that’s how you know you really have arrived,’ Barber said to the crowd during his lecture.

    But over the last two years Barber’s had run-ins with long time teammate Michael Strahan and Giants Coach Tom Coughlin. He made very negative comments about both to the media. In the Coughlin’s case, there have been numerous incidents. While Barber certainly had great numbers, individual statistics are not the most important thing in sports. But with increased numbers comes increased responsibilities to the team.

    Instead of putting his teammates on his back and carrying them towards the ultimate goal in any team sport, which is a championship, Barber worried more about himself. After the Giants lost a playoff game 23-0 last year to the Carolina Panthers, Barber publicly ripped his Coach for not getting him the ball enough. He even went as far as to applaud the opposing coach’s game plan. If leadership means bashing your boss in front of a worldwide audience, then it’s definitely a virtue Barber possesses.

    Before the final game of his career, a playoff match up against the Eagles, an interview that Barber recorded earlier in the week was aired on ESPN. In it he told of how upset he was that he was treated like a child and disrespected by the coaching staff. I don’t know if they could have made the timing of that interview any better had they put it on the jumbotron just prior to player introductions.

    As for the Strahan incident, the off-season after the defensive end broke the NFL single season sack record, he turned down the Giants first offer to re-sign him. Although it had nothing to do with him, Barber came out to the media and bashed Strahan, saying to the New York Post, ‘I don’t know if he realizes how much $17 million is. That is absolutely ridiculous, to turn that down. He’s already the highest-paid defensive player in the league. He’s already making more than most quarterbacks. I find it hard to believe this whole deal hinged on if he was going to get $17 or $10 million this year. I find that hard to believe. That’s the value of my entire contact, that’s why I have no sympathy. You’re telling me that’s not good enough for two years? Give me a break.’

    ‘Now, what is character?’ Barber asked the audience during his speech. ‘In my mind, it’s what you do when other people aren’t watching. Think about that for a second. What do you do with yourself when other people are not watching?’ he continued. ‘It’s like’hellip; the student in the classroom when the teacher is looking over her; she’s really studying, working her butt off.’ But if he couldn’t even say the right things when he had a camera in his face and people were watching, imagine what was said behind closed doors.

    It’s too bad that most people worship at the feet of professional athletes and tend to forget about those who play the game just because they love it. Such is the story of most college athletes who probably won’t make the pros, just like those here at SBU. They play because it’s fun, that special feeling of being part of a team. Ask the players of the Bluffton University baseball team. Bluffton is a small Division III school in Ohio. It was thrown into the news last week when a bus carrying the baseball team crashed onto an interstate highway in Atlanta. Although four members of the team died instantly in the wreck, the surviving members of the team scrambled amid the twisted metal on the highway and attempted to save whoever they could.

    ‘It was what you’d expect out of any college team — more concern for others than you have about yourself,’ said A.J. Ramthun, an 18-year-old member of the team. After seeing a team of college kids fighting to save their lives, and the lives of their teammates after plunging off an overpass in a bus, I tried to put things into perspective. After seeing the heroes welcome Tiki Barber, received here at SBU, and the overflow of compliments directed at him by the crowd, I realized I didn’t want to just sit and watch it unfold. I thought of the real heroes, the kids of the Bluffton baseball team, who risked everything for their teammates. If that’s not the essence of excellence, I don’t know what is. They showed real determination, leadership, and teamwork.

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