Tiki Barber on Football Players and Heat

New York Giants running back Tiki Barber talks about the 27-year-old right tackle who died of a heat stroke after practice. He said Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings and players like him, pride themselves on being able to fight through the heat during team workouts.

In an interview with ABCNEWS' Charles Gibson, Barber said players don't realize how serious heat-related problems can be until something tragic happens.

The following is an unedited transcript of the interview that aired on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

ABCNEWS' CHARLES GIBSON: Tiki, good to have you with us. We just heard a sports medicine expert there say that players push themselves too far. I saw a couple of dozen New York Giants at the end of practice yesterday knelt in prayer for Korey Stringer. I'm sure that was played out in many, many camps. But is this common that players push themselves too far?

NEW YORK GIANTS RUNNING BACK, TIKI BARBER: Well, Charles, we've been taught since we were children playing the sports that you've got to be tough, you've got to suck things up, you've got to keep pushing for the team. And oftentimes you ignore the warnings. And you look at some of the charts that they put out for us, some of the signs of dehydration are cramping, are dry mouth, a headache. Things like that happen every day and you don't think it's a bigger problem until something tragic like this happens.

GIBSON: And I know the trainers stress you have to stay hydrated, and for somebody like Korey Stringer that involves drinking an enormous amount of water. But he was vomiting, he couldn't keep things down. Do you see that often, that players will be vomiting … during practice?

BARBER: Not that, not that as often. Guys will sometimes throw up and it's not something big, you think your lunch is just coming back on you, you think you ate too much and you're going to be all right if you just push through it, and it's tough when you've done this for so many years and you feel like it's nothing different. But then, all of a sudden, the heat index gets up so high, you don't realize how hot it is and before you know it you have a problem with yourself.

GIBSON: Do players, Tiki, do it to themselves or are they pushed by coaches, trainers to keep going?

BARBER: You know what, I think it's a pride thing. I think, you know, like I said, you've done it for so long and you don't want to leave your teammates down. These guys come to depend on you, especially someone like Korey, who was a team leader for them. He wants to teach the little guys, the younger guys, how to be a professional and how to fight through things like this. And you, and it's almost on yourself, you pride yourself in being able to fight through these things.

GIBSON: But explain to somebody who doesn't play football why someone would do this? Korey Stringer didn't need to win his position. He's a pro ballplayer, he's revered throughout the league. He's a star. He's going to start for the Minnesota Vikings, so … why do people do this to themselves?

BARBER: They do it because it's a game; it's a game you've been taught to be tough in. You know, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, they didn't even have water on the field and it was about developing, like a mentality of going to war. You see kind of dehydration and things like this in the military, as well, because they're taught that toughness. We're taught that toughness where nothing can break you. You want to get into a game and being able to go on against any situation and be able to fight through it. And you know, training camp and practice is one of those things where you're going to fight through these tough times, whether you've got a little nick, whether you're feeling sick, you're going to fight through that because when the season starts you don't want to have to sit down and say, you know, I couldn't get through it.

GIBSON: The NFL says it's going to look at training practices throughout the league. Did you see anything different in practice yesterday for the Giants?

BARBER: Not much. We've been, you know, we've been taught since we first get here, our trainer gives us a pamphlet, a handout, and gives us a little talk about keeping hydrated, drinking water, taking as much as you want back to your room. And I think guys, by and large, listen to it. We're lucky up here in Albany because it's not as hot as it is in some of the other parts of the country.

GIBSON: Yeah. Not surprising some, often that these things happen down in the South.


GIBSON: State, high school teams down in that area that can happen there. Tiki Barber, appreciate you joining with us.

BARBER: No problem.