TIKI BARBER: Running Strong
Tiki Barber is a legendary running back for the NY Giants with a long list of accomplishments since his retirement. Currently he is an entrepreneur as co-founder of the company Thuzio.
By Inez Barberio
It has been nearly nine years since NY Giants all-time leading rusher, Tiki Barber, retired from football and yet nothing has slowed his game. NBC Today Show correspondent, author, devoted father, and current co-host of the CBS Sports Radio Show, TBD in the AM, are just a few ways the charismatic Barber has identified himself in both his life and philanthropic endeavors. Though he may no longer be running down the field for touchdowns, he continues to run strong with his newest business venture Thuzio, which he co-founded with business partner Mark Gerson.
Interested on playing a round of golf with former New York Yankees Roger Clemens? How about having Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly attend your hunting trip? What about a birthday video message sent to you from former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ronde Barber? All of these unique experiences and more are made available through Thuzio’s online marketplace from over 2,500 talents and athletes for a wide variety of events. Potential clients have the ability to access talent through a transparent online pricing that enables them to tailor their experience to their own individual needs.
Thuzio was born from the recognition that retired athletes still had much to offer off the playing field. “My co-founder Mark Gerson and I had lunch over cigars maybe three and a half years ago and the conversation started with athletics and went to business and then it came back to a problem that a lot of former athletes face which is finding ways to connect with their communities and monetize their brands downstream,” explained Barber. “So as an athlete you spend 15 – 20 years being excellent at your craft through high school, through college and ultimately the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc., but as soon as your playing career is done, you get replaced immediately on the field and not too soon after on people’s minds, unless you’re one of the megastars, but for a majority, you get replaced, and you still have something to offer.”
As Thuzio was initially tailored towards individual experiences, Barber found that corporate America had a need for networking and talent, thus the Thuzio Executive Club was created.
“We bring one of our top end talents, who are highly engaging in their local environment and along with networking, hors d’oeuvres and a great dinner; we have a sit down, intimate conversation with the talent.” Barber explains the Thuzio Executive Club membership brings a more personalized experience to clients and it offers something different apart from engaging clients to the traditional baseball game, dinner, or typical trade events.
Barber himself is on the roster of talent for Thuzio. He once attended the Golf Fore Kids AC event benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. What made this event so interesting was that Barber was engaging clients who were primarily Philadelphia Eagles fans. When asked if he felt any apprehension attending this event, he answered, “No, I didn’t actually. The Boys & Girls Club is such an amazing organization. Plus, I have this interesting relationship with Philly fans. It’s not like love/ hate; it’s more a hate/respect. They respect me because I was good; they hate me because I was good. There was always a great rivalry,” he laughs. “In fact my first game in my career and my last game in my career was against the Eagles. It was as if my professional life came full circle in Philadelphia which was kind of cool.”Barber understands in order to succeed one must build relationships. “Just like building a business, it’s all about relationships. It’s about finding a common goal and in this case, doing something good for kids. So at the Golf Fore Kids AC event I got to meet a lot of different people and it was fantastic, which is kind of my experience with everything that I have done through Thuzio. People reach out because they feel a passion and an identity for what I did as a professional. I can hear and disseminate stories, and provide an experience that is hard to get anywhere else. And that is ultimately what we hope that our talent and clients get out of it.”Other philanthropic endeavors Barber has done include supporting former New York Yankees, CC Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation, where Barber helped raise $200,000 by running the New York City Marathon for the first time this past November. Barber also sits on the board of The Fresh Air Fund and is an active Early Childhood and Youth Committee member for the Robin Hood Foundation with a mission to eradicate poverty in New York. Barber and his wife Traci are currently working on a few national initiatives for Kulture City; an Alabama based autism organization focusing on individuals with autism and their families. This holds dear to Barber’s heart as his best friend’s son was recently diagnosed with autism.
Barber may no longer be a running back in the NFL, but he still has a lot of mileage in him through his passion, determination, and persistence in life. When asked if he remembered what word he featured on his appearance on Sesame Street, Barber enthusiastically replied, “Quest!” “That was actually one of the coolest things I have done because it lives forever.” Barber sporadically receives messages from his childhood friends telling him, “I just saw you on Sesame Street!” Whether it is through Thuzio, football, family, or anything else that may arise, no doubt Barber’s quest in life lead will lead him to further triumphs.
– Photography By Alan Barry Photography and photos provided by Thuzio.