If you’re planning to buy my new book because you think it’s a tell-all airing of the New York Giants’ dirty laundry, don’t.
Despite some reports, “Tiki: My Life in the Game and Beyond,” is a deeply personal memoir about myself, the experiences that shaped me, my relationships, and in the case of my father, our non-relationship. Of course the Giants are a part of that story — I was a member of the team for a third of my life, after all – but it's a mere glimpse into who I am.
As of late, alot of attention is focused on why I retired, and what pushed me away from this game that I loved so much. The easy answer is that there is no easy answer. I feel that people are looking for one specific reason. Frankly, I'm not that shallow — life and decision-making is much more complicated and conflicted.
The primary focus has been my relationship with Tom Coughlin. People think that I dislike Tom, I don’t.
I am thankful to him for many reasons. For one, giving me an attention to detail that I didn’t have before. It’s those little, tiny things that make a difference as a player, and a person. I’m grateful for the way he handled my personal situation with my oldest son. Like me and my brother, my oldest son suffers from febrile seizures, and Tom was always very supportive. He always asked about AJ and let me know if I ever needed to leave to take care of him, I could. There’s this side of Tom that is a great family man, a great nuturer; but that's not how he coached, and unfortunately, we sometimes didn't see eye to eye.
He was only one of the reasons I decided to retire after last season, but certainly not the only one. The NFL is a brutal game, the physical pounding is beyond description. It's a game that takes a lot of preparation, mental toughness and determination. In the end, though, you need to have fun. Without that, your passion starts to wane. And I wasn’t having fun. That wouldn’t have changed no matter who was coaching.
I wish the Giants, Tom and my former teammates well this season, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be a mouthpiece for them. I’ve been hired by NBC to give my honest analysis of what I see and what I know, and that’s what I’m going to do. That may put off some Giants fans, but I take my new role seriously.
You’ll find that out if you pick up my book. You’ll also figure out that my “torment” has nothing to do with the Giants or anything as trivial — in the big picture — as a game.
My father left my family when I was 4 years old. Over the formative years of my life, we didn't have a relationship — an experience that unfortunately isn't unique in our society. As my brother and I matured and became discerning adults, the gravity of what it meant, especially to my mother, to be abandoned started to weigh on us. Then out of the blue, my father returned (the first of his many attempts to return to our lives), showing up at my last collegiate game. Emotions of all types welled up, things at the crest of my mouth that I wanted to say, but all I did was briefly say "hello" and walk away.
That’s torment. That’s what’s real. That’s my life experience and why my true relationships mean the world to me.
I don't have fault with people having strong opinions about me; that is their prerogative. In fact, I welcome the dialogue. But what I'm not interested in is soap opera gossip that blurs the lines of journalism. It’s clearly not fair to me, and I think even less so to those whose opinions are shaped.
My advice, read "TIKI" and make your own decision. Don't let someone else's agenda decide for you.