Mike Brown offered Dhani Jones a ride in his golf cart Wednesday during practice so he could get close to his old mates and say hello. Jones eyed the Bengals president with a mischievous smile.
“I’ve never sat in that golf cart. I’ve seen other people in that golf cart, but I’ve never been in it,” said Jones, never carted off the practice field in four seasons as a Bengal. “Do you have a license to drive this thing?”
Jones, 34, is in his second year of retirement since playing his last NFL game as the Bengals middle linebacker in 2010, and he continues to traverse the globe in all sorts of vehicles. But Wednesday was the first time in Mike Brown’s golf cart and yet it wasn’t their first conversation by a longshot.
” I’d barge into his office from time to time,” Jones said. “Mike’s a driven man. He’s got great intentions for the team and he’s got high expectations for the team.”
They talked about, in no particular order, Brown’s health, his family, maps, and his aspirations.
“I don’t think there’s any NFL owner who doesn’t want to win it all,” Jones said.
One of the reasons Brown no doubt feels so comfortable with Jones is that he’s the embodiment of the player Paul Brown coveted. Smart, prepared, and a plan for life after football.
Jones is busier than ever with seven shows on channels ranging from The Big Ten to Spike TV, where he’s got two. His Bow Tie foundation for charity also continues to expand with more than 80 organizations involved and the designs just keep coming.
His legacy with the Bengals is just as busy and connected. When the thing began to implode in the dog days of ’07 and ’08, Jones was one of the consummate professionals that kept head coach Marvin Lewis’ principles afloat and set the stage for the ’09 North title, the ’11 Wild Card and the high expectations of ’12.
It was a two-way street. On Wednesday Jones told Brown “The four years I spent here on the field as well as off the field were probably some of the best years I played the game.”
One of the players he watched Wednesday was his old roommate, Vincent Rey, the second-year linebacker who has modeled his life on and off the field after Jones. When Jones retired, Rey asked for and got Jones’ No. 57, and made the team as a special teams maven. A free-agent from Duke, he’s still here.
“I like watching him play because I remember the things we talked about while we were rooming together and that translates into the way he plays,” Jones said. “My little brother.”
His influence is so directly felt on the man that replaced him in the middle, Rey Maualuga, that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer had to tell him, “Stop trying to be like Dhani.” Jones not only knew what all 10 guys were doing, he desperately had to know. Zimmer doesn’t think that fits Maualuga’s style of play.
Jones agrees and says he’s talked to him about it.
“I tell him the same thing. He has to be him. You can only be yourself for that position,” Jones said. “Rey does a great job. He’s got his own style and everybody knows he’s good. He’s got to play like that.
“If he makes the mistake, he’s going make the mistake that might cost you but never cost him. At the same time, he’s a young player on the verge of being a better young player and continuing to get better and better and be a superior player.”
“Reckless with intent,” Jones said.
Jones didn’t have to tackle the globe Wednesday to view some of his accomplishments. The view was pretty good from Mike Brown’s golf cart.
Tags: Dhani Jones, Rey Maualuga, Mike Brown, Marvin Lewis, Vincent Rey
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