Memoirs of Tiki: 5 Best Off-Field Memories

Here is TGI's fourth installment recapping the illustrious career of Tiki Barber, who accomplished as much off the field as he did on it during his 10 years with Big Blue. In this issue Tiki recalls his five most memorable off-field happenings, in no particular order.

Rice for lunch

"Last spring, I was invited to the White House correspondents' dinner. It seemed like a fun opportunity to go see this political world that I've become very interested in. That Monday after the dinner, me, my wife, my manager Mark and his wife, met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the state department and had lunch with the most powerful American woman, if not the most powerful woman in the entire world. It was as if we knew her forever. Within a few minutes, we were having a full-blown conversation, completely comfortable. It was a unique experience and one I'll never forget. That was a real good memory."

Israel trip

"We were at Tao in the city, going out to dinner for my son Chason's first birthday, when who should walk in but Shimon Peres. One of his people came over and asked if I would like to meet him. I went over to meet him and after about 10 minutes of talking, he invited me to Israel as his guest. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. A couple months later we went. It was the most eye-opening experience I've ever had. That part of the world is so uniquely different than America. The things you read about and the things you hear about are one thing; but when you actually see it, it's amazing. The conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians nestled in this beautiful and historic part of the world was awe-inspiring. You're literally walking in the footsteps of great men in history. I'll never forget that experience either. That was fun. We saw their Parliament and Ariel Sharon was there. We went to the Dead Sea, where you float because it's 30 percent salt. You can't swim in it because you can't hold yourself under water. I had a chance to see these schools that Shimon Peres has set up called Twin Sports Schools that bring Palestinian and Israeli kids together to play sports that hopefully will help bridge the cultural and religious divide that's been there for generations."

Flying high

"In 2002, I went to Norfolk, Va. on the invite of the USO. They asked me to be part of this event that they had to honor some of the troops that were coming back from Afghanistan at the time. They also invited me to go up in an F-18 fighter jet. To do that, I had to take all these classes; it was a crash course, basically. I had to take a water survival class because in order to go supersonic you had to go over the Atlantic Ocean. I almost drowned taking my water survival class because you had to tread water for two minutes with full flight gear on and it was not easy.

"Ironically enough we did this training, we came back and a week later we were going to go up in the jet. Mark and I were going to fly from Newark to Norfolk and we get up in this twin-propeller plane. We take off, we're flying over Queens and it's obvious we're not gaining altitude. We look out the window and there's fluid running down the window. We're thinking ‘this is not good.' We circled around, landed and ended up having engine failure on our way to go fly in a fighter jet. It was so ironic. We wondered if we should have just cancelled. But we decided to get on the next flight. We went up in this F-18 and it was incredible. Those things are so aerodynamic, smooth and incredibly powerful. It was scary but invigorating. We went up to about 52,000 feet. At that height you can see the curvature of the earth. The view from that height in that kind of plane was amazing. You can't tell how fast you're going until you go through clouds and then you realize how fast you're flying. We got to pull some G-forces. After that I gained a huge respect for our fighter pilots. To be able to function in that type of environment is something that most people can't do. It was unique and awesome."

Acting out

"I met these set of twins at some event and they ended up being part of an original play called "Seeing Double." The premise is that these two twins live together and one of their boyfriends moves in. I'm one of the boyfriends' co-workers. It's all the trials and troubles that you can possibly imagine with one man living with a set of twins. Whether it's being confused between the two, which one does he really like? As one of his friends I try to help him through it. It was fun. It was a new experience that you could only get in New York. I had to sing and perform. What I do here is a different kind of performance. It's similar in some ways – you get the same kind of rush from it – but it was also very unique. It was extremely hard because it was somewhat of a comedy, which is all about timing. You have to seem natural even though you know what's going to happen. The length of preparation it took was surprising to me. It literally took four months to get the lines and the blocking down. It was harder than I thought it would be but I enjoyed it. It was fun."

TV time

"All my TV work, in and of itself, was unique. I've had a unique opportunity because I've taken advantage of it to craft a second career while I'm in the midst of a present one. Again, it was a lot of work because I had to sacrifice a lot of my free time. And I went out on a limb and put myself in a position to be criticized by working as a morning broadcaster, originally at WCBS, where I was just giving the sports. It was hard, because it's hard to read and act natural at the same time. But it was good because I had co-workers that realized I wanted to be good at it and they helped me along the way. What started off as just another way to diversify my life turned into something that I developed a passion for. I continued to take steps along that line, doing a show on the YES network, ‘This Week in Football,' which eventually led to an opportunity at FOX News, where I was not only serving as a guest but I was also hosting. For the last year-and-a-half, I've been the host of ‘Fox and Friends' every Tuesday morning. What's great about it is that it's not sports. It's allowed me to express and show my interests in other things in life, basically. I can give an opinion about it and be myself on television, which people enjoy and I enjoy doing. It's ultimately going to end up being my next career. I may do some sports on the weekends, but that won't be my primary job. That's kind of neat. In a lot of ways, it's given me an appreciation for the job that the media has to do. It's hard to get to the essence of a story and try to give the truth and not just a convoluted opinion. It's made me appreciate the other side of this environment. I've been lucky and now I want to make a career out of it when I grow up."

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