Power Players

Ex-NFL star Tiki Barber: Pandemic helped me focus on 'mental health' and the 'little things' in life

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 03: Tiki Barber crosses the finish line at the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon on November 03, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/NYRR via Getty Images)
Bryan Bedder

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber has been busy since retiring from the NFL after the 2006 season.

Barber has been a TV and radio host, has launched several start-ups and has written a few books. He even starred in Broadway's "Kinky Boots" and has become a marathon runner.

The 45-year-old was constantly on the go.

"Pre-Covid-19, I didn't think about time for myself," Barber CNBC Make It. "It was more like wake up, get whatever work done I need to do, and head to the city."

The days felt repetitive, Barber says. 

"Commute to work, do my job, commute coming home, go to bed and do it all over again."

But over the last few months on lockdown, while Barber has been at home in Florham Park, New Jersey, he has learned to focus more on himself.

"It's allowed me to focus on mental health, running and finding some escapes in my life, which I think has been a good thing," Barber says.

For one thing, Barber, who has six kids, has been able to spend extra time with his family.

For instance, before the pandemic, Barber says Monday through Friday he would spend maybe an hour and half a night with his two youngest daughters (who are 6 and 3 and live with him) because of his schedule and commute from New Jersey to his office in Manhattan, where he records his CBS Sports Radio show "Tiki and Tierney." Now he has more time at home.

Barber also has learned to appreciate the "little things." He recently learned how to make a perfect martini, for example. 

"I mean, seriously. It's interesting because before Covid-19, when I would go out, it was like let me have this drink and have this big dinner and yada.. yada... It was all rushed because you only had like one night to do it," Barber says.

But now he can take his time: "Do I like gin or do I like vodka? Do I want bitters or do I not want bitters?" 

"It's little things that you wouldn't have thought about [and] you would have relied on a bartender to do it for you," Barber says. 

"It's let me explore a little bit," he says.

But it's not all family bonding and cocktails.

Barber has also had to pivot his eight-year-old start-up, Thuzio, a sports-media company that hosted live, members-only events with sports icons like Phil Simms, Julius Erving and Scottie Pippen

HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 09: Adam Kaufman (R) interviews Football running back Tiki Barber during DraftKings Kickoff Bash 2018 at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten on September 9, 2018 in Hoboken City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Getty Images for DraftKings)
Sean Zanni

"Obviously, we can't do live events anymore with 150 people in a room, so it's forced us to pivot a little bit," Barber says. 

Now Thuzio is moving to virtual offerings. Covid-19 helped push the co-founders to make the product more accessible to people all over the country instead of just in select markets where athletes live. 

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