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 ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -Eli Manning defended his decision to rip former New York Giants teammate Tiki Barber on Wednesday, saying there are times when you just have to react to criticism.
The quarterback also said there are also times to forgive and forget, and that he would like to put his disagreement with the halfback-turned-football-analyst behind them.
``I am fine talking to Tiki,'' Manning said between training camp practices at the University at Albany. ``If I see him, I'll definitely talk to him. I will be friendly to him. I'm not trying to start something. It's just a deal that happened and hopefully when we see each other, and we will, and it won't be awkward. I don't want it to be.''
Manning's peace offering came 24 hours after he criticized Barber for attacking his leadership on the halftime show of the Sunday Night Football game between the Giants and Baltimore Ravens.
Barber had said that Manning's attempt to lead an offensive meeting in the 12th week of the last season was ``comical'' at times.
After sarcastically noting that Barber was making a smooth transition from the playing field to television, the normally reserved Manning said he could have questioned Barber's leadership last season for calling out coach Tom Coughlin and then having articles about him retiring in the middle of the season. It turned out to be a major distraction for the Giants.
``I guess I have always been an even-keel guy, never really responded back, always tried to make things smooth and easy,'' Manning said. ``That's probably the first time I fired back a bit. It was one of those things that I felt I needed to do.''
Barber did not immediately return a telephone call left by The Associated Press seeking comment on Wednesday.
Manning said he has not talked to Barber since the blowup.
``This is kind of a done issue for me,'' Manning said. ``I made some comments yesterday and it's over in my eyes. I don't want to make it a bigger deal. I want to try to end it as soon as possible.''
While many teammates said they were unaware of the controversy until Tuesday night, they applauded Manning's actions and words.
``I am not surprised,'' receiver Plaxico Burress said. ``When somebody talks about you, you are supposed to stand up for yourself.''
Guard Chris Snee said that no one on the team was going to get bent out of shape by what Barber said. He also had a different view of Manning's talk to the offense in the 12th week of last season.
``Eli is not a big vocal guy, but he has shown leadership,'' said Snee, who is Coughlin's son-in-law. ``I have seen it. If Tiki or anyone else wants to say they were laughing when he was speaking, that's fine. I took it as if he (Eli) was fired up and ready to play.''
Brandon Jacobs, who inherited the starting job at halfback when Barber retired, did his best to stay out of the controversy.
Six times he said that he had nothing to say about the Manning-Barber rift.
The seventh time, he relented.
``It's just two leaders,'' said Jacobs, who was mentored by Barber the past two seasons. ``Tiki was a great leader for us last year and Eli was a great leader for us as well, and will be this year. They're two grown men and I'm sure they are going to find a way to settle their differences.''
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