I'm on the phone with Giovani Bernard.
I have 10 minutes with the Bengals' exciting rookie running back, and there are no shortage of topics to discuss. His place on Cincinnati's depth chart. His comfort in Jay Gruden's offense. His role in Gillette Deodorant's "Built For Training" series, which, truth be told, is the reason he's on the phone with me in the first place.
But all I want to talk about is "Hard Knocks." Bernard seems less inclined. You get the feeling the rookie doesn't want to give off the appearance the HBO show has been a distraction to him on any level. He says he hasn't even been following along.
"I didn't even watch the last episode," Bernard said before Episode 3's premiere Tuesday. "The first one, I was kind of forced to watch it. I don't plan on watching the one tonight. I'd rather sleep than watch TV. I'm simple. I'd rather catch up on sleep when I can and not really focus on TV as much."
Rest is a precious commodity for NFL players in August, but really, Gio? Facts are facts, and Bernard has been a focal point of Season 8 of "Hard Knocks." In the premiere, we got a look at his much-maligned Honda Odyssey. On Tuesday's episode, we met his girlfriend.
We're supposed to believe Bernard was sleeping when the woman he loves was making her premium cable debut?
We get it, though, and give him a pass. We have to ask about James Harrison, who has acted as the Bane-like character of the season. Has Bernard actually ever had a conversation with his intimidating teammate?
"No," he said with a laugh. "Actually, one, sorry."
Was there legitimate dialogue?
"Not really," he replied. "More like, 'Hey, how you doing?' That's about it."
This makes complete sense.Dan Hanzus provides recaps of every episode of "Hard Knocks" on Tuesday nights. You can read recaps of the first three episodes here, here and here.