NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Former Giants running back Tiki Barber said he recognized Tom Coughlin was a great football mind when he played for him from 2004-06, but he was also a detail-oriented “pain in the ass.”

But Barber credited the coach for softening his disciplinarian style of coaching players as the reason Coughlin went on to win two Super Bowls en route to a likely spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Speaking on CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” show Tuesday, Barber recalled his time playing for Coughlin, who resigned Monday after 12 seasons as Giants head coach.

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He said in Coughlin’s early years in New York, his approach wore thin on many players, including himself and defensive end Michael Strahan.

“He’s famous for all of the rules that he would set, like be five minutes early,” Barber said. “And as an argument as a player, we’d say, ‘If you want us to be five mintues early, why don’t you make the meeting for five minutes early?’

“When it came to us, he would treat us like we were problem children, that we were the redheaded stepchild … who deserved to be beat on and whipped about and not cared about,” Barber said. “That’s what it felt like from a personal situation.”

But on the field, it was obvious Coughlin’s style worked, Barber said. In Coughlin’s first season, with Barber coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, the coach told Barber he was not afraid to bench him if he did not clean up his mistakes, namely his propensity to fumble.

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Tiki Barber (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Tiki Barber (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Coughlin demanded that Barber carry the ball high and tight, to the point where Barber held the ball just under his chin.

“It actually made me a better player,” Barber said. “It made me a non-liability as a fumbler. But it also shortened my stride length and made me stronger, more compact as a runner. And because of one little nuance, detail that Tom Coughlin was trying to drill into my head, I became a Pro Bowler. I became one of the elite players in the National Football League because Tom Coughlin was a pain int he ass.”

Barber said Giants co-owner John Mara asked him during his exit interview after his 2006 retirement what he thought of Coughlin as a coach.

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“I said, ‘You can’t fire Coach Coughlin because he’s a great coach, but he has to change,” Barber said. “And with John’s urging, with (general manager) Jerry Reese’s urging, with, now that I’ve read, his wife’s urging, he changed. And for a man at that time, who was 60 years old, 61 years old maybe, to change the way that he’d done things at Boston College, at Jacksonville, probably even earlier when he was a wide receivers coach with the New York Giants, change all of that in the interest with creating familiar relationships with his players is a credit to him.”

Barber said he received a text message the next training camp from center Shaun O’Hara saying Coughlin told the team a joke and took players bowling, gestures that seemed alien for Coughlin before then.

“And all of a sudden, the Giants became a team that was very well coached, attention to detail, focus on the particulars, finding a way to win games that maybe you should lose on the field, that was a team that was tighter than any maybe in the National Football League off the field,” Barber said.

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“Is Tom Coughlin a Hall of Famer? You damn sure better believe he’s a Hall of Famer,” Barber added.