Barber has news in sight in NBC lineup


NEW YORK -- NBC's newest on-air personality might be a natural on the football field and in the broadcast booth, but Tiki Barber said he is more interested in exploring the news side than sports.

The retired New York Giants running back officially was announced Tuesday as a correspondent for "Today" and as an analyst for the network's "Football Night in America." But he said Tuesday that he can see a time when he moves over to the news side and leaves sports (and football) behind.

"News may take precedence, but it will take some time," Barber said.

Barber said that he had worked hard during the past 2 1/2 years -- as his disenchantment with football and his coach grew -- to grow into a broadcast career. He started an interview show on Sirius Satellite Radio "that had nothing to do with sports," Barber said, and he got invaluable experience on the Fox News Channel morning show "Fox & Friends."

"I'm thankful that I was able to run parallel lives as a football player and as a broadcaster," Barber said.

While he turned down offers at Fox and ABC/ESPN, Barber said he always has been attracted to "Today" because of Bryant Gumbel (whom he got to know at WCBS-TV when Gumbel was at CBS) and Matt Lauer, whom he met while Lauer was doing a story about seven years ago.

"He's the kind of person that I want to be," Barber said of Lauer.

Lauer said in an interview afterward that Barber is so good, viewers will think of him as a broadcaster -- and not a former football player -- first. "He's a natural fit for 'Today,' " Lauer said.

Added NBC News president Steve Capus: "We think he has the attributes that are perfect for the 'Today' show."

Barber's move to NBC represents a coup for the network. The news conference drew dozens of reporters and photographers to Studio 3A at 30 Rockefeller Center as well as Lauer, Capus, NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker, NBC Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol and "Today" executive producer Jim Bell.

Bell, who before joining "Today" was an executive at NBC Sports & Olympics, said that Barber has a wide range of interests and wants to do more than just sports. "He is not another athlete trying to get on the TV sports gravy train," Bell said.