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{ Dhani Jones, coming off another fine season for the Bengals, wants to spread the message that players can bring about change. }
Author: Khalil Garriott, NFLPLAYERS.COM Editor Posted: 7/26/2010

WASHINGTON—Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones seems to get better with age. In 2009, he recorded the third-highest tackle total of his 9-year career (team-high 113), while far exceeding his previous high for sacks in a season (3.5). He started every regular-season game and was voted a defensive captain by his teammates. Jones, who enjoys trying his hand at many varied tasks and adventures, visited the NFL Players Association’s offices last week. In this exclusive Q&A with NFLPLAYERS.COM, he discusses his legacy and passion for affecting social change.

Q: Tell me about being at this point in your career. Have you accomplished everything you’ve set out to accomplish?

A: There are a lot of things I have accomplished. Every time I step on the field, it’s about being a successful athlete, being a leader and setting an example. As a team, last year we got to the playoffs but we didn’t finish it through. It was a definite goal of ours; I mean, everyone wants to get to the Super Bowl.

Q: As a veteran player in this league, are you more concerned with your legacy on the field, or everything you do off the field?

A: I like to talk about both. It’s 50/50; what you do on the field definitely affects what you do off the field. What you do off the field affects what you do on the field. If you can balance the two and establish a comfortable legacy between both of those—impact the league and impact the players—then you’ve figured it out, and you’ll have a tremendous amount of success.

Q: And you’re able to impact a lot of people both ways, too.

A: Yeah, you impact the players and you impact the people. A lot of the fans realize your love and passion for the game. Players can understand that when you’re on the field, that’s the type of player that you are. In the league, you want people to understand what you’ve brought to the league and what type of change you’ve brought.

Q: You are known for having one of the more eccentric and outgoing personalities in the league. Why do you think you have that reputation?

A: Because I just like to live. I think a lot of times people get locked in a box. And I like to push the boundaries a little bit. Not intentionally, that’s just my personality. I’d like to think that many players in the league don’t want to go through life just being players. They want to express themselves as an athlete, as an artist, as a musician, as a businessman, as a father, as a person that has a personality outside of the game of football. Their face is something different than just what they show underneath the helmet.

Q: Of all the different areas you are involved in, what is your main passion?

A: Just affecting change; I think that’s the most important thing. Changing the negative stereotypes—although there are positive ones, too. Probably the most negative stereotypes are based upon athletes, especially black male athletes in the league. And helping people understand that we’re not just players; we’re not just athletes. We’re not just people that put pads and a helmet on … We have the ability to do great things outside of the game of football.

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