MIAMI -- The story has been told many times. Former New York Giants tailback Tiki Barber fumbled 35 times over four seasons from 2001-04. After adjusting the way he held the ball from a mechanical perspective, Barber put the ball on the ground only nine times during the final three seasons of his career.
So as he made his way around the Super Bowl media center Wednesday, Barber was a natural target for questions about Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson -- who has an NFL-high 20 fumbles over the first three seasons of his career.
Barber minced few words during an interview with SIRIUS NFL radio, saying Peterson “loses awareness” when he’s running and that “any looseness” with the ball makes it vulnerable to fumble. And then Barber endorsed what we discussed last month: A fundamental offseason intervention to correct the problem.
Said Barber: “Adrian Peterson, I think, needs to be told directly, almost as an affront to his pride, 'You are hurting your team. You're becoming more of a liability than you are an asset to your football team.' And that hurts. When Coach [Tom] Coughlin told that to me, it hurt me and I had to find a way to correct it, but … he told me how to fix it, and I took it to heart and it really helped me craft my game. And Adrian Peterson needs some of that same tough love, because right now it's hard to get tough on Adrian Peterson because he's so damn good."
Indeed, Peterson fumbled twice and was responsible for a botched handoff in the Vikings’ 31-28 loss to New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game. At one point in the second half, the Vikings had to stash him on the sideline to let him calm down. In between, he scored three touchdowns and gained 122 yards.