Ninety-Nine Yards met Giovani Bernard at last week’s NFL Academy event in London. Giovani has been a solid player for the Bengals throughout his 6 NFL seasons, despite rarely starting. Running back in the modern NFL is less built around one featured back and this accounts for his considerable production. He’s accounted for 3,111 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He’s also shown how versatile he is, adding 2,278 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. Ninety-Nine Yards caught up with him at last week’s NFL Academy event at the new Tottenham stadium. However, it wasn’t his first time in London. He was able to explore the nation’s capital in 2016 when the Bengals visited to play the Redskins at Wembley. That game ended in a 27-27 tie.
On The NFL Academy
Bernard was excited about the NFL Academy and said that they were “doing some awesome things here to have this and showcase these kids. I actually want to watch, at some point, these kids run the 40.”
He followed that by saying, “These kids are super talented. The biggest thing is they don’t necessarily know how to dive into the resource that they have, so we’re just bringing the Academy over here which is really cool to be able to see this. We’re starting these kids out young and that’s what we do. Over in America we’re starting at 7,8, 9 (years old). So now they have the opportunity to be in this programme for multiple years and I’m sure there’s going to be an NFL player coming out of one of these academies one of these days”.
On Zac Taylor
Asked about the team’s transition to new Head Coach Zac Taylor, who many hope will be the next Sean McVay, the Bengals running back was overwhelmingly positive. He said, “Obviously he’s coming over from the Rams and they’ve done an awesome job over there over the years. Having Coach Taylor come over is obviously really cool to see, really cool to be a part of. He’s an offensive minded coach, a young coach, ready to go so it’s pretty awesome to have him over there.”
On the Bengals Draft
The Bengals first round pick in this year’s draft, left tackle Jonah Williams, was lost for the season and Gio said, “Obviously when you’re losing your first round pick it’s definitely tough”. “It’s just one of those things, next man up. We’ve always been that way. It’s a business, things are going to happen, that’s just how it works. We’ll see, I don’t really know what they’re going to do, so we’ll figure it out.”
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has seen his fair share of criticism over the years. Perhaps as a result, the team drafted North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley in the fourth round to compete with Dalton. Our reporter asked if Bernard felt this would put pressure on Dalton. He said, “The biggest things is he’s learning the playbook and that takes some time. It’s not like you just get there and pick up everything, it takes some time. Having Andy leading the way for our quarterbacks it’s definitely really good because Andy really takes the time and studies everything. There’s competition in that group and that’s always a good thing. It always brings out the best out of every single player. It’ll be cool to experience and nice to see.”
Although Bernard has been a vital part of the Bengals offense throughout his career the team drafted two running backs in the sixth round in April. We asked for his thoughts on the running back group and the effect that competition has on him personally. Giovani said, “The group’s doing well. Having two guys that had a great career is really nice to see, Rodney Anderson from Oklahoma and Trayveon (Williams) at (Texas) A&M. It’s really cool to have them, talented guys obviously, which brings more talent to the room which is what we want. It helps every player, just like in any position the more talented guys you get in there the better everyone does collectively. It’ll be cool to witness. I don’t know what my role will be. Whatever it is I’m ready to compete just like in any other sport or position”.
A huge thanks to Giovani for taking the time to speak to us and we wish him the best for the coming season and look forward to seeing him play at Wembley again this season. Also thank you to our own Duncan Terry for asking Gio the questions in my absence.