NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Sione Pouha was tired of answering the same questions everywhere he went this offseason.
He heard them in stores. At his kids’ school. Even at the dinner table.
“Everybody was asking two general things: ‘What’s up with the lockout? What are you doing with no football?'” the big Jets defensive tackle said. “I was kind of like a broken record. So, I thought to myself, ‘Dude, what am I doing? I can just show them.'”
So, Pouha grabbed a video camera, got a film crew together and started rolling on a behind-the-scenes series that fans can subscribe to on his YouTube channel. The 4-minute preview for the “Life of a Lock Out” series has gotten more than 2,000 views since it was posted a week ago, and the first full-length episode airs Wednesday.
“I would call it a low-budget reality series,” Pouha said with a big laugh. “It’s not quite ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians.’ It’s the non-football life of a football player and what they do during the lockout.”
The preview shows clips of Pouha working out and getting a visit from teammate Nick Mangold, hanging out in Times Square in Manhattan and waiting to reward a Jets fan with tickets to the home opener — when and if that happens — and singing in the kitchen with one of his daughters.
“I thought it would be awesome to give people, kind of like a reality show, a chance to see what we do other than on the fields,” he said. “A lot of people just see us on Sundays and obviously that’s what we get paid to do, but we have adventures and have families and take our kids to school and do homework and that sort of stuff.”
But, would fans really care? The 32-year-old Pouha is one of the more under-the-radar guys on a team filled with headline-making personalities. But he got all the confirmation he needed that night in Times Square when fans flocked to him.
“You see them and it’s like they’re dehydrating (without football),” he said. “It just looked like they were absorbing it like a dry sponge. That’s when you understand, as a player, how much energy the fans give to you. It’s like, ‘Wow!'”
Pouha, who had a career-high 59 tackles and two sacks last year while filling in for the injured Kris Jenkins for the second straight season, is not alone in trying to keep fans entertained. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has begun posting videos and pictures on his Facebook page of things he’s doing this offseason, such as his “Jets West” camp with some offensive teammates in Southern California and his recent appearance on NFL Network. Safety Emanuel Cook is also starting his own YouTube channel, and several Jets players are active on Twitter.
Pouha began thinking about his project in early May, when “the flakes of the idea” came to him. Three weeks ago, he decided to go ahead with it and called a camera crew that shoots commercials for his business venture, Bula Beverage — a kava root-based Pomegranate-flavored soda which hit stores in the West and Southwest a year ago. The crew showed up a week later and the cameras have been shooting ever since.
“Usually around this time, fans are excited and buying rookie jerseys and everyone’s starting to set up their fantasy teams and welcoming in their new acquisitions through free agency,” he said. “None of that’s going on right now, so I thought I’d give fans something to watch.”
Using Bula’s marketing budget to pay for the crew’s expenses, all Pouha needed was to run it by his wife, Katie.
“She thought I was crazy, kind of,” Pouha said, laughing. “My wife was kind of like, ‘What are you going to think of next?’ It’s crazy because this is kind of against my nature. I’m not really the kind of guy who goes and has a Web page. It’s kind of like out of character, but at the same time, I don’t know what’s come over me.”
His family is originally from the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga, and this will allow relatives and friends there to keep up with the Pouhas.
“You get access at any time,” Pouha said. “It’s free and you can find it anywhere around the world.”
There will be shots of him and the rest of the Jets’ defensive linemen when they get together soon for position workouts, but not all the footage will be filmed by the crew. Pouha will use his own camera and produce vlogs — video-style blogs — that will be included in each episode. He took his camera back home to Utah for Memorial Day weekend, and will introduce fans to his mother, and even take them on some private moments, such as when he visits his father’s grave site. Pouha stopped cutting his hair last season in tribute to his father and has also started growing a beard, but fans will have to tune in to find out why.
He’ll give demonstrations on Polynesian cooking, and if the lockout is still going on, he’ll take the fans on a video tour of Tonga. He might go down to Miami to hang with friends Koa Misi and Paul Soliai, who play for the Dolphins. There will also be games in which subscribers can win prizes, and Pouha will answer questions from Twitter followers.
“People will be like, ‘Oh, he doesn’t just two-gap. He multitasks and these guys really juggle a few things more than football,'” Pouha said, laughing again.
He already has over a hundred hours of footage and plans to post a new episode every other week. While Pouha hopes the lockout ends soon so he can get back to work, that doesn’t mean the video series will then end.
“We’ll start it off with ‘Life of a Lock Out,’ and then when that’s done, we can change it up and do something else,” Pouha said. “I feel like we’ll have a lot of stuff, even throughout the season. It’s fun for me and it’ll be fun for the fans.”
Better than “Hard Knocks”? Let us know what you think of Pouha’s preview in the comments below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)