Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Napalming a bridge: before and after

This week we're getting a unique look at what can happen when you not only burn a bridge, but nuke it down to the molecular level. And this week we're actually seeing the burning and the aftermath, through the actions of two people.

I'm talking about Charlie Sheen and Tiki Barber, the former Giants star who announced yesterday that he wants to return to the NFL after four years away from the game.

Sheen, of course, needs no further explanation here. We're seeing firsthand a man who seems hell bent on destroying his career by trashing his employers and co-workers. There has been a lot of analysis as to whether or not Sheen will ever work again in Hollywood. Time will tell.

But we're seeing what could be the answer in the case of Tiki Barber. For those of you who aren't sports fans, Barber is the guy who played ten years for the Giants and was never shy with his feelings about the coach or teammates. (The fact that the Giants won the Super Bowl the year after he left speaks volumes.) Barber came off as very smart while he was a player, and dipped his toe into broadcasting with Fox News. When he retired, he scored a gig with the Today Show and was a featured player on NBC's Football Night in America. The sky seemed to be the limit, and many thought he'd be the next Frank Gifford.

Then Tiki Barber started throwing bombs, much like Charlie Sheen is doing now. He ripped his coach, his old quarterback, his team. He was removed from the football show. Then he had a well publicized affair with an intern while his wife was eight months pregnant. Not a great move for someone on a show with huge female audience. He was let go by the network and basically became a pariah.

When the Giants opened their new stadium this past fall, Barber was the only former player booed.

Everyone assumes that he's trying to make a comeback since he doesn't have much of an income, has four children to support, and will probably get cleaned out by his ex-wife.

Here's a guy who was a football star in the world's biggest market and had the world by the tail. He can turn around, but there are no bridges left to cross since he's burned them all. When he announced he was unretiring, the Giants waited about a nanosecond before announcing they had no interest in bringing him back.

So you don't need to wait to see what happens with Charlie Sheen. Burned bridges are pretty much the same, regardless of who lights the fuse. You're watching it happen with one person and seeing the results with another.

At some point in your career you will hate a job, or a supervisor, or a co-worker. While burning a bridge might give you instant gratification, it's best to just leave the bridge standing and move forward.



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