Tiki Barber Talks Media and Steroids
The chance to rub elbows with a sports superstar is always an opportunity to savor. I was privileged to meet with former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber for a lunch at a Manhattan restaurant last week, courtesy of an invitation from my friend Regina Vetere of the CBS Coverage Group. Barber retired from the NFL at the end of the 2006 postseason as the Giants’ all-time rushing and reception leader. He shared the insights of an amazing athlete who has spent time in the rarified limelight of public fascination. Aside from making Super Bowl predictions (I tweeted his thoughts @RickCollinsEsq) and evaluating the future for Big Blue, Barber offered his opinions on what constitutes fair game for professional athletes in today’s “nothing is off limits” mediaverse. Athletes are held accountable as a matter of public spectacle not only for what happens on the field, but for everything they do off the field. While stating the unfairness of the erosion of any vestige of privacy for public figures, he acknowledged that it’s too late, unfortunately, to turn back now. I agree with him, sadly, that it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle.
Only when the subject turned to anabolic steroids was I disappointed. In discussing steroids, Barber referenced the death of NFL player Lyle Alzado as a cautionary lesson that resonated with him as a college player and kept him clean throughout his career. Mainstream media sources have perpetuated the myth that steroids were connected with Alzado’s death, leading to a widespread unsupported belief among the general public (the brain lymphoma that took Alzado’s life has never, either before or since, been associated with steroid use and even his own physician publicly stated that the link was unfounded). I was surprised that a top level athlete like Barber wouldn’t know much more than the misinformed Average Joe.
Aside from the steroid issue, Barber was knowledgeable and entertaining. He presented himself with candor and as a true class act, and I was honored to have spent some time with him. You can keep up with my latest professional adventures by clicking the “like” button on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RickCollinsOnline.