The playoffs are known as "the second season." Dhani Jones hopes the Bengals get back to them with the help of his second season of Dhani Tackles The Globe, which premieres 11 p.m. Monday on the Travel Channel.
Football, after all, is what knits it all together. The schedule. The regimen. The incentive.
As the Bengals middle linebacker, Jones is the eyes and ears of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. So he knows if he messes up, he'll hear it from Zimmer's mouth.
"I know if I miss a tackle, Zim is going to blame Dhani Tackles The Globe," Jones said Monday morning as he prepared for another media blitz that culminates in a Manhattan private viewing party. "So I'm making sure I'm not going to miss any tackles. But they know when I'm back for the season, I really hunker down and watch film and stay late. I'm on the road about 100 to 115 days. The rest of the time I'm in Cincinnati focusing on football."
His number one priority is the Bengals. Number two is the Travel Channel. Both are based in Cincinnati (Scripps is headquartered downtown), but it all comes back to football even though he's playing different sports in different countries. Now at age 32, Jones is coming off two of his three best seasons stat-wise in his 10-year career coming off the show.
After he had a career-high 165 tackles in all of 2008's 16 games following the show's first season, most of the episodes for the second season were shot before the 2009 training camp and helped him start another 17 games with 142 tackles, his third best total.
"I think the shows helped me because of (the cross training), but I also think it's because I know more about the game and I'm stronger mentally," he said. "A lot of times the way I could relate it to football helped me get through it."
A look at how he thinks each episode helped his play on the field:
April 19: Italy (Bike Racing): He embarked on the 110-mile race shortly after he finished. The spring workouts in June and the benefits were obvious for a guy that often rides his bike to and from Paul Brown Stadium during the season: "A lot of hill work. You're riding 50 miles at a time and it helps with endurance. The goal is to practice and play as long as you can."
April 26: Senegal (Lutte Wrestling): Liberal hand-to-hand combat, which helps with getting off blocks, and since the main objective is to throw the opponent to the ground by lifting him up and over a boundary, it also helps with tackling. Another episode shot before training camp.
May 3: Iceland (Strongman): Also shot before the '09 season: "Yeah, we were moving a lot of obscure objects (trucks for one), but the idea is the same. You want to move people back in football and this had a big power lifting element to it."
May 10: Jamaica (Cricket): They actually finished this episode the day before Jones had to report to training camp last July, and he thought it fit perfectly since cricket is a lot like baseball: "It was kind of like a vacation. There were still some running around and you were outside and it's fun, but it wasn't as arduous as the other sports."
May 17: Croatia (Water Polo): Jones says this came on the heels of the cycling trip: "It gave me a chance to recover. In the ocean you get positive and negative ions working against each. Swimming isn't the best thing for a football player because it's not great for your strength. But it does give you a chance to use some different systems, and it was a good way to recover from all the biking."
May 24: Scotland (Highland Games): A lot like the throwing events in track. Among the throws are a caber toss and the stone put. The Caber involves a long pine pole or log with varying weights and it must be thrown so the big end, which is held in the air, strikes the ground first. The Stone is a lot like the shot put, but it's heavier and has a different technique:
"This is another sport that makes your core stronger. You look at the guys that train for the decathlon. You have to be strong. And it does help with your balance."
May 31: Brazil (Beach Volleyball): The first episode shot after the season, a week after the Wild Card loss to the Jets:
"Look at how many training programs are now using running and working out in sand," Jones said. "My coach was in the Olympics in 1996 and she's a beast. She was running me up and down the beach, and making me move from side to side. Great workouts."
June 7: South Africa (Soccer): Speaks for itself: "Soccer players are extremely gifted when it comes to running, both for distance and for bursts in short intervals. It's another sport that helps build endurance."
June 14: Mexico (Lucha Libre): Like volleyball and soccer, also shot after the season. A form of wrestling that is enhanced by the country's high altitude and it prepared him for the final episode of climbing Mount Everest:
"Really, this was a form of higher altitude training. It combines wrestling with gymnastics. There's a lot of acrobatics. Tumbling. Flips. There's also lifting, so it's another activity that builds the core. And it is quite demanding aerobically."
June 21: Nepal (Mt. Everest Climb): He just finished it about two weeks ago with the pronouncement that it was the toughest episode of the 20 he's shot in the two seasons. It can go under any category for helping with football. Cardio. Strength. Intervals. Mental toughness.
"You say 'trekking,' and people just assume that's easy. It's just walking. But it's so many other things. It's high altitude training. You're going 15,000, 16,000, 17,000 feet in the air. With each step you're fighting to regain your strength. And there are different degrees of ascents."
There are a couple of reasons why Jones has embraced the show. He would like his fellow players to start thinking about expanding their lives off the field. He wants to expose people to different cultures and show that they can be accepted in other places. And can do both by staying in shape.
"He's very conscientious. I don't worry about that," said Zimmer with a laugh. "I just want to know what he's doing the rest of the time when he's not playing the sports."
He'll find that out, too, in Jones' off-field excursions that make up a good part of each show. Such as in Senegal, where he deals with an element of society that believes in witchcraft. But that probably won't help him on first-and-10 like the wrestling moves can.
"I think it's great that Zim and Marvin (Lewis) have been supportive in this," Jones said. "If you clear everything you do outside of football, you wouldn't be able to do anything. But at the same time you have to be comfortable that what you're doing is going to put you in the best position possible to succeed as a football player. And this allows me to do the things that feel I have to do."