At the fifth annual Blogs With Balls conference, former NFL player, former NBC employee and current Thuzio enthusiast Tiki Barber was part of a panel discussion on “the state of football media.”
And according to Tiki, it’s a declining state with the recent expansion of NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” slate of games. While he was looking at it from a player perspective, he’s certainly not a proponent of “TNF,” since there isn’t enough time for players to prepare.
“It’s an unbelievably short week,” Barber said. “I’m thinking about when I was getting older as a player. I didn’t feel good until Friday… We’re talking here about the coverage of the game, but I’m thinking about the product on the field, and how bad of a beating you take on Sunday afternoon, and then literally have to turn around, and — two days, really, it’s not three days, in two days, because you’re traveling on the day before, then play again, and be ready to play again… I think the product goes down… I think the product of the game diminishes because you’re not feeling the same. It takes a lot to get ready to play a football game, and to do it in two days, it doesn’t really work.”
Barber then added that he was “shocked” that the then-undefeated Arizona Cardinals had lost to the St. Louis Rams in this week’s “TNF” matchup.
Did you know that Barber participated in the first ever Thursday night season kickoff game back in 2002? And he even scored a touchdown in that contest? How soon we forget.
Later, during a discussion about fantasy football, Barber opined: “It makes you a commodity… be traded – literally… When I was playing, I hated it, because it missed the line with what my goal was as a player. Right? I didn’t care if I rushed for 200 yards or ten as long as we were winning, and especially as I got older, it was more about winning. But looking at it in retrospect, now that I’m retired, there was a swath of this country that really had no interest in me as a New York Giant, but because I was putting up good fantasy numbers, they cared… When you have great fantasy stats, people pay attention.”
From crossing a line between fantasy football stats and real ones, to crossing the line between being a player and an analyst of your peers – yep, his unsuccessful tenure at NBC came up, too. “I toed that line for so long… I left the NFL, and went right to NBC, but I was working in media for years before I retired, and so I always toed that line, and then, literally, when I left, I stepped over it, and it was just as if I was a trader. But really all I was doing was analyzing and giving my opinion as I expected the consumer to want to hear it. But unfortunately, and I learned this actually from Michael Strahan, he said, [imitating Strahan] ‘You gotta give the sugar, and you gotta give the salt. Because if you just do one, you’re gonna be a homer if you give all sugar, and they’re gonna hate you if you give all salt.’ And so, that’s really what the customer wants to hear. And it’s interesting because it’s also what the media wants to hear. So, it is hard to toe that line, and I think, increasingly, probably in the last four or five years, it’s become less taboo for former athletes to give their true opinion and not get killed for it.”
You mean, like getting killed for your decision to leave your pregnant-with-twins wife for an intern at NBC?
It was fitting that Tiki Barber appeared during Blogs With Balls, because he certainly has brass ones.
It’s sad that many of the panelists at that same table have more Twitter followers than him.