After sports stardom? Go jump in the (icy) lake


Retirement can mean whittling or checkers or solitaire or such. Or, for some retired athletes, it can mean swooping down hills or plunging into icy lakes. That's in "Advenure Capitalists," which starts its season Tuesday (Oct. 10). Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

So let's say you've
finished that pro-sports career you dreamed of.

You've made big
money, drawn big cheers. Now what do you do?

How about plunging
into ice-cold water ... or zooming downhill ... or racing through the
wilds? Those are things people do early in the new “Adventure
Capitalists” season.

“They're all new
experiences .... You get to evolve,” said Dhani Jones, a former pro
linebacker.

And sometimes you
invest in the company. “If 'Shark Tank' and 'Survivor' had a secret
love child, it would be 'Adventure Capitalists,'” said Jim
Ackerman, the CNBC programming chief.

Three athletes –
Jones, skier Jeremy Bloom and gymnast Shawn Johnson East – try
outdoor products, then listen to the pitch and sometimes invest.
“It's like a sibling rivalry, a little bit,” Bloom said. “Shawn
and I trained for the Olympics, Dhani spent 11 years in the NFL, so
we are used to putting our bodies at risk .... There's no instruction
manual; we just jump on them.”

These are type-A's,
in sports and in business. “We are always talking over each other,”
East said.

That may surprise
people who expect athletes to be one-dimensional. But consider:

-- East, 25. In the
five years since retiring, she's been a “Dancing With the Stars”
champion, written books and taken a long list of endorsement deals.

-- Bloom, 35. He
launched a big tech and advertising firm – something he was
prepared for: He's a Wharton grad, his dad is a psychologist ... and
his sister ran a Hollywood poker ring; she's being portrayed by
Jessica Chastain in the Aaron Sorkin movie, “Molly's Game.”

-- Jones, 39. His
mom is a doctor and his dad was a Navy commander; he grew up in
Maryland (and sometimes Japan), but traveled worldwide.

He learned some
discipline ... and entrepreneurship. At Potomac events, “I was the
kid who sold water at the side of the road. My friend and I would
bring a wagon and sell water.”

After prep school,
he wanted to choose a college for academics, not athletics. He
recalls seeing a pamphlet that showed the University of Michigan
symbol on top of a globe. “I liked the audacity of the school; they
basically said they ARE the globe.”

So he went to the
school whose alumni include Arthur Miller, Gerald Ford, 21
billionaires and the unabomber. “I can go to New York City and
already know people,” said Jones, who had a major
(“self-representation”) he fashioned himself. “Or to Sioux
City.”

But yes, they play
football at U-M. He was an all-Big Ten linebacker three times
(1997-99); during that stretch, U-M was 32-5, winning the Rose,
Citrus and Orange bowls and a national championship.

Then came 11 years
in the pros, the final four with the Cincinnati Bengals. “I look at
Cincinnati and all the things going on there.I see a real renaissance
going on that I want to be part of.” So he's stayed there with his
love interest, plus two kids (4 and almost 2), a cafe (Bow Tie Cafe),
an investment firm (Qey Capital) and a creative agency
(Proclamation).

And he flies off for
“Capitalists,” which can be risky. “That's what the hospitals
are there for.”

But yes, some things
are scary the first time you do them. “He was freaked out riding
his first motorcycle,” East said.

And quite upset when
he was supposed to try a cold-defying fabric. Jones was reluctant to
jump into the ice water ... so he was pushed in. “I popped out of
the water, couldn't talk, and then guess what happened? They pushed
me right back in.” Sibling rivalries can be tough sometimes.

 

-- “Adventure
Capitalists,” 10 p.m. ET Tuesdays, CNBC; season-opener is Oct. 10.

-- Opener reruns at
1 a.m. ET, then at 11 p.m. Wednesday, noon Saturday, 9 p.m. Sunday