Giant criticizes quarterback for poor leadership - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Giant criticizes quarterback for poor leadership

Tiki Barber's Sunday Night Football debut was bad news for former teammate Eli Manning.

After saying Manning's had moments of greatness, Barber got to the meat of the issue on the quarterback at intermission of the Giants-Ravens game.

"Can he be a leader of men?" Barber asked in response to a question about Manning. "Can he make these guys play for him when the chips go down? He hasn't shown it. His personality hasn't been (such) that he can step up, make a strong statement and have people believe that it's coming from his heart."

The wait for Manning to make a statement -- verbally or physically -- continues. He blew his best chance to take ownership of the Giants' leadership reins in the final regular-season game of 2006. That night, the embattled Giants needed a win in Washington to make the playoffs. Manning went an anemic 12-for-26 for 101 yards against one of the least imposing defenses in the NFC. Barber put the Jints on his back that night, running for 234 yards in a 26-21 win that pushed New York into the playoffs.

And while Barber's gone, taking his production with him, the leadership (or loudmouth, depending on one's perspective) role is not vacant. More powerful personalities like tight end Jeremy Shockey and wide receiver Plaxico Burress remain, which means Manning's wallflower days will probably continue.

Barber said that Manning tried in 2006 to be a locker room leader.

"Around Week 12, I turned over the offensive motivational speech to Eli, and he was gung-ho to do it but he was uncomfortable doing it," Barber said. "I think a lot of that had to with the vets being around -- myself, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Buress. He didn't feel his voice was going to be strong enough and it showed. Sometimes it was almost comical the way he'd say things."


Is the 26-year-old Manning highly scrutinized and held to high standards? Absolutely. And while having Peyton Manning for an older brother reasonably leads to that, it also goes past that.

Remember, Eli Manning wanted this. Or his father, Archie, did. Or agent, Tom Condon.

Either way, the Manning camp orchestrated Eli's escape to New York, turning their noses up to the then-moribund Chargers before the 2004 draft and forcing the trade to the Big Apple, where Eli's now the main course on the tabloids' back-page buffet.

They asked for the New York market; they knew the demands and financial returns possible. They thought Eli could hold up his end of the bargain. He hasn't yet. And, if his efforts at leadership were "comical," as Barber suggested, you have to wonder if he ever will.

10 before Eli?

NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth alluded to a conversation he and Barber had off-air when they tried to name the quarterbacks they'd rather have in charge of a team than Manning.

They said they came up with "about 10."

First of all, for a No. 1 overall pick entering his fourth season to not be among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league is bad.

Second, Collinsworth and Barber didn't say whether they meant for one game, for 2007 or for the foreseeable future. Let's assume it's for 2007 and not the future, which would eliminate Steve McNair, Jeff Garcia and Brett Favre.

If I were the head coach and needed to make the playoffs or live with my family in an appliance box beginning in mid-January, these are the guys I'd rather see with their hands under my center's unmentionables. In descending order.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Peyton Manning, Colts
3. Carson Palmer, Bengals
4. Drew Brees, Saints
5. Marc Bulger, Rams
6. Donovan McNabb, Eagles
7. Philip Rivers, Chargers
8. Chad Pennington, Jets
9. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
10. Jeff Garcia, Buccaneers
11. Byron Leftwich, Jaguars
12. Damon Huard, Chiefs
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
14. Tony Romo, Cowboys
15. Steve McNair, Ravens
16. Jon Kitna, Lions
17. Trent Green, Dolphins
18. Vince Young, Titans
19. Matt Leinart, Cardinals
20. Jake Delhomme, Panthers
21. Brett Favre, Packers
22. Charlie Batch, Steelers
23. Alex Smith, 49ers
24. Brian Griese, Bears

Other than that, it's hard to think of any.

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