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The Big Game 2013

First Mover: Tiki Barber

The former Giants great on the Super Bowl, Manti Te'o and clowning around on talk radio

Photo: Elizabeth Lippman


Specs
Age
37
New gig Host, CBS Sports Radio
Old gig Analyst, NBC’s Football Night in America

After doing television for years, how do you find talk radio different? 
It’s not just a sound bite. It’s delving into topics and issues, and it lets you show your personality. You can be a clown or really serious. For instance, this morning, even though we’re a sports show, we were riffing on Family Feud.

What’s your take on the San Francisco-Baltimore Super Bowl matchup? 
It’s interesting on a lot of levels, starting with the two coaches, Jim and John Harbaugh, being brothers. And then there’s the mix of Baltimore’s traditional type of offense versus San Francisco’s newer pistol offense. At the same time, the defenses are very similar, with both being very hard-nosed.

What’s the bigger story, the Harbaugh brothers or Ray Lewis?
They are both so compelling. Since it’s his last run, where Ray Lewis has been in his life—personally and professionally—is going to dominate the headlines. And it should. He’s one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the game, and he has a complicated legacy because of what happened in 1999 [murder case in Atlanta] and his becoming a born-again Christian and living an exemplary life after that point.

What happened to your old team, the New York Giants?
I cannot tell you with 100 percent certainty. But while there wasn’t an injury reported, I speculate about the health of quarterback Eli Manning. There was a stretch where he just didn’t have zip on his throws. And then there were injuries to other starters. Once you lose key players, it’s hard to match the right kind of intensity on game day.

Are you big into social media?
Facebook is completely for personal usage, and I for the longest time resisted it. But then I started communicating with high school friends I literally hadn’t spoken with for 15 years. It’s been kind of cool.

Manti Te’o’s situation has blown up on social media. What do you make of that story?
It’s perplexing and compelling for a lot of different reasons. I don’t want to believe he is naive enough to get caught in this catfish scenario.

Do you think the story in and of itself will affect the way he’s treated by his future NFL teammates?
I talked to a former gm and he said that you have to make Te’o get in front of the team and explain exactly what happened. An NFL locker room is so much about trust and leaning on your teammates. If there’s some sort of doubt about his character, the teammate relationship just doesn’t work. I don’t think his draft status will be affected. But I think it will affect his acclimation process. The transition is hard enough to go from college to the pros the way it is.

The press will be out in droves for the Super Bowl. Are the NFL’s media policies too stringent?
The NFL brand just keeps getting bigger and bigger. You see that at Super Bowl week when you journalists come from around the world. As any brand would, the NFL wants to control the message as much as possible. Therefore, there are a lot of restrictions on what players can and cannot say.

How is Thuzio (an online athlete booking service) doing?
Thuzio is not actually creating anything new. There’s been a market for athletes doing appearances forever. But there’s never been a marketplace with price transparency and e-commerce. We aggregate the long-tail of celebrity. We are growing. Just last week we opened for business in Los Angeles. 


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