Please file the words "Book former NY Giant Tiki Barber for your next Bar Mitzvah!" under things I never thought I'd write. But alas I have now written it. And no it's not a reference to an SNL skit, it's a real thing. Ask "Amy D." who, according to Barber's company website Thuzio.com booked him for a family member's party.
But Barber isn't the only former athlete and sort-of-celebrity you can pay to kick it with. There's former Seattle Supersonics guard Gary Payton, former NY Knicks star John Starks and NFL greats like Ricky Watters and former baseball players like Fred McGriff. The site also offers up opportunities to meet players who are still on active rosters. All you have to do is click on a name and scroll through a list of "products" for each sports personality and choose one that fits your budget.
So what does it cost to, say, have dinner with Pierre Garcon who is currently a Wide Receiver for the Washington Redskins? That will run you a cool $5,000. If you want to play a round of golf with him, that'll be $7,500. Those with a more limited budget can play a pick up game with former Los Angeles Lakers player A.C. Green for just $800 or have former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway give them a phone call for $149. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Basketball Wives villain Evelyn Lozada's ex, Antoine Walker, will have lunch with you for only $1,200.
When I first heard of Thuzio a few months back, I was creeped out by the entire thing. And I promise I'm not just hating because I can't afford the $18,000 it would cost me to meet my childhood crush, Jalen Rose. There's just something unsettling about the thought of folks paying to hang with others, although I admit it happens in various forms daily. We all pay for access at some point in our lives. But what kind of access, exactly, is this?
For example, if the site was largely about presenting an opportunity to throw a business idea in front of a guy who was looking to invest I'd be enthusiastic about it. That would be a great way to help connect folks who have money with folks who need money who can make them more money. A couple grand isn't much to ask to get a pitch in front of the right person. But I'm not sure that the most logical candidates to register with Thuzio have money to burn. Barber himself has had a host of financial issues going so far as to attempt a comeback to the NFL in 2011 at 36 years old.
Beyond the business aspect, I personally see very few reasons to pony up some cash so that Tiki's twin brother Ronde will awkwardly pretend he likes me for an hour. Still, I support the entire concept of trying to make as much bank as possible off your own name and likeness. Plus, charging speaking and appearance fees is nothing new. At least Barber’s site is transparent about the costs up front. I'm interested to see if Barber's biz is successful.
Perhaps if Kenny Lofton ever signs up for the site my opinion will evolve. I MIGHT be willing to cough up $100 to tell him how much I loved him during the old MTV Rock N Jock days. Then again, maybe not.
What do you think? Would you pay to hang out with a former baller?