New Jersey beat writer reveals origin of Tiki Barber, Saquon Barkley ‘hater’ feud

Beat writer reveals origin of Tiki Barber, Saquon Barkley ‘hater’ feud
from Zac Wassink, with

Beat writer Bob Brookover of NJ Advance Media for may have discovered why running back Saquon Barkley referred to New York Giants legend Tiki Barber as a “hater” amid Barkley’s free-agency move to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Saquon Barkley is a great back, but he might not be an every down back,” Barber said on his then-CBS Sports Network/radio show after quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked three times in the Giants’ 2020 regular-season opener. “He cannot pass protect. It’s becoming glaring and could become a liability. Recognition is one and (two), you gotta go hit a dude. Saquon Barkley is a big man who doesn’t want to hit anybody. It’s frustrating to watch. He’s a great back, but he’s frustrating to watch trying to pass protect.”

The Barber-Barkley matter that became a discussion point on national sports talk programs this week began when the current WFAN host warned the 2018 first-round draft pick ahead of the NFL’s legal tampering portion of free agency about insulting “his Giant history and legacy” by negotiating with the Eagles. After Barkley and Philadelphia agreed to a three-year, $37.75M contract reportedly worth up to $46.75M with $26M fully guaranteed at signing, Barber joked that the 27-year-old was “dead” to him and to Giants fans.

Barkley responded via X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and said Barber had “been a hater since [he] got to New York.” Interestingly, Brookover mentioned that Barkley didn’t react quite as harshly following Barber’s words in September 2020.

“I’m not going to look at it as disrespect,” Barkley said at that time. “I’m going to look at it as a challenge. I really don’t care about outside opinions. I’m really focused about the opinions in this building. Try to come to work every single day and get better.”

Earlier this week, media insider Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated shared numerous instances of Barber defending and/or praising Barkley over the years. While speaking with reporters at his introductory Eagles news conference on Thursday, Barkley expressed some remorse for his social media activities and for not giving “a proper goodbye” to Giants fans.

“In 2022, he not only rebounded as a runner, he also emerged as one of the better pass-blocking backs in the league, posting a career-best grade of 75.3,” Brookover added about Barkley. “Last season, [Pro Football Focus] graded him as the fifth-best pass-blocking back in the NFL. Barber was right in pointing out the importance of that aspect of a running back’s game.”

Perhaps Barkley will one day thank Barber for providing extra motivation regarding an issue that needed to be addressed years ago.