Barbers Become First Twins Ever to Call an NFL Game in Sunday’s Giants at Bucs Game on FOX
NEW YORK, NY – The NFL’s most successful and well-known twins, Rondé and Tiki Barber, have shared a vast majority of their life experiences. The two will add another moment to their memory banks this weekend when they team up in the FOX NFL broadcast booth for Sunday’s New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers game (4:00 PM ET on FOX) alongside play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert and sideline reporter Kristina Pink.
Sunday’s FOX broadcast, featuring their former teams (Bucs – Rondé; Giants – Tiki), is believed to be the first time twin brothers have called an NFL game for national broadcast television. Roommates since birth, the Barbers were teammates through high school and at the University of Virginia. It took the 1997 NFL Draft, which sent Rondé to Tampa Bay and Tiki to New York, to separate the inseparable. Therefore, it is fitting that football brings them back together on Sunday.
“Putting those headphones on and calling a game is a lot different than what Tiki is accustomed to,” said Rondé, who played cornerback for the Bucs from 1997-2012. “Millions of people at home are experiencing the game through our eyes by virtue of the way we call the game. It will be interesting to see how Tiki sees things from the booth. It took me a little while as an analyst to get used to viewing the game from a broad perspective, so we’ll make sure Tiki doesn’t have his eyes focused only on the running backs and quarterbacks, where he naturally will be drawn.”
Rondé, who played his entire 16-year NFL career for the Bucs, predicts Sunday’s assignment will be more challenging for Tiki than anything he did on the field in his decade with the Giants.
“Calling the game certainly will be the most challenging thing Tiki has done professionally simply because he’s a novice at it,” Rondé said. “The evaluation of the game in real time is very different than sitting in a studio analyzing what happened afterward. You have to be on point and able to see and conceptualize big-picture stories, plays and players. The first quarter will be the worst for him, but by the fourth quarter, he should be right where he needs to be. Plus, Kenny (Albert) has been doing this for 24 years, so Tiki will be in good hands.”
Although Sunday marks Tiki’s first time as a game analyst, he has gained extensive media experience since retiring from the NFL. He says he is up for the challenge on Sunday.
“I feel comfortable knowing Rondé is there for any questions I might have during the game, but more than that, I’m really looking forward to sharing this experience with him,” said Tiki, who was a Giants running back from 1997 to 2006. “We get to spend the day watching a game between our former teams and analyzing what we see, which is amazing. Rondé already has offered plenty of advice and helped me prepare, although he explained that he is a bit of an overachiever in that department. He probably does enough research for Kenny (Albert) and me both.”
Play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert has intimate knowledge of the mechanics involved in calling a game with two analysts versus the customary one. Of his 24 NFL seasons with FOX Sports, Albert spent eight calling games alongside analysts Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa.
“I am looking forward to becoming an honorary Barber triplet on Sunday,” Albert said. “I’ve been lucky to have worked in a number of three-man booths in various sports, but in particular with football. Having ‘Goose’ (Siragusa) on the field with an open mic was more challenging than having two analysts in the booth because he could join our conversation at any time. It’s probably easier when you have the two analysts with you, like we’ll have Rondé and Tiki positioned.”
In their playing days, Rondé and Tiki always were positioned on opposite sides of the football. Rondé played cornerback his entire career, while Tiki was a running back. In the five times the brothers met on the NFL field, the Bucs won three games to the Giants’ two. Ironically, Rondé’s first career interception came in 1998 against his younger brother’s team.
Veteran FOX NFL producer Barry Landis says their opposing backgrounds and experiences make for a unique combination in the broadcast booth.
“One was a running back and one was a cornerback,” Landis explained. “You don’t have that yin and yang in many three-man booths. Rondé analyzes the game from what he has known, so it will be interesting to bring a running back in and hear what he sees. When you’re a defensive player, oftentimes you know more schematically about offenses because you prepared for them your entire career. Conversely, I often find offensive players know so much about defenses because that’s what they prepared for. I’m excited to hear what Tiki learned in his playing career and how he sees the game as opposed to how his brother, a defensive back, does.”
After sharing an apartment bedroom as children, a University of Virginia dorm room and every football field in between for so many years, Rondé doesn’t expect sharing 20 or 30 seconds of airtime to be a big deal. He, however, knows what he is in for in the battle to be heard.
“Anyone who knows us will tell you Tiki tends to dominate the conversation because he likes to talk and has a large vocabulary,” Rondé joked. “He’s smart and thinks through what he says more than I do. I’m more casual and relaxed. I’m excited because we don’t get to do many things together. Hopefully, it’s fun for the viewers. And Tiki will be fine. I’ll hold his hand.”
And as any loyal teammate or identical twin would be, Rondé is prepared to carry Tiki if necessary.
“Absolutely, I’m prepared to carry my brother,” he laughed. “It’s my broadcast. He’s our guest.”