When you think of the journey of a professional athlete, you probably picture a person who was the star player in their chosen sport from a young age. You definitely don’t picture a kid with asthma who weighs 270 pounds, wears glasses and who started out stuck on the bench.
Of course, if you follow the NFL or you’re a fan of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, you know who we’re talking about - the unique and now retired Giants running back, Rashad Jennings. Just last Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, Jennings announced his retirement via this post on Twitter and reveals more about it in the official Giants announcement.
We’ve seen and heard many amazing stories of players over the years, but Rashad Jennings career “trophies” in his football career and beyond deserves a retelling. We also know the struggles and triumphs of Mr. Jennings have been shared and reported on everywhere, but we truly admire the man. Let's be honest, we’re big fans.
From chubby kid to scouted by accident
By now just about everybody knows the story of how back in high school in Forest, Virginia, 5th string running back Rashad Jennings and his buddy used to sit on the bench eating snacks and how one day fate would step in and due to the injuries of other players, his high school coach put him in the game and he went on to score 4 touchdowns, 2 on offense and 2 on defense. Plus there just happened to be a college scout at that game there to watch another player.
It was this conversation with the scout from Tennessee that made Rashad believe that his dream of playing for the NFL could be a reality and he started focusing on his grades as well as his playing. His brothers even coached for free so he could transfer to a private school.
From 4th running back to start as a freshman to family tragedy
His hard work and the support of his family paid off and Rashad Jennings earned a full scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, where he became only the 4th running back to start as a true freshman. Then in that same year of college, his father who suffers from diabetes was having health issues and needed to have his leg amputated. As a result, Rashad made the difficult decision of giving up his position at the University of Pittsburgh and transferring to Liberty University to help out with his father. While at Liberty, he broke records, including remaining their all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, with a total of 42.
From Jaguars to Giants
In the 7th round, 250th overall, of the 2009 NFL Draft Rashad Jennings was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars where he was a backup who scored his first touchdown after only 9 weeks, after a 28-yard rush. Unfortunately, due to a concussion and subsequent knee injury, he couldn't play for the entire 2011 season and in April of 2013, Jennings signed on with the Oakland Raiders, again as a backup.
The Raiders startup at the time was, Darren McFadden who sat out most of the season on the bench due to injuries which meant that Rashad got to start a total of 8 games as McFadden’s replacement. In that 2013 season, in week 11, he rushed 22 times and made 1 touchdown at the end of an unbelievable 80-yard run. In fact, while researching this article, we watched footage of Rashad’s epic rushes to touchdowns over and over again, dumbfounded at his agility and ability!
Which brings us to his career with the NY Giants that began when he signed a 4 year, $14 million contract in March of 2014. He quickly became a starting running back in his first season and started in all 16 games of the 2015 season and in 13 for the 2016 season. While playing for the Giants he had several more long runs ending in touchdowns and again as we watch Jennings career rushing highlight reel, we’re utterly lost in admiration and astounded by the number of times this man ran past other players and into the end zone!
From Lord of the Field to Lord of the Dance
By the end of 2016, his 4 year contract complete but hoping to be signed again by the Giants or if not, then another team, Rashad, a self titled autodidact who makes it a point to learn a new skill every off-season, agreed to be on Season 24 of ABC’s popular show, Dancing With the Stars and from his very 1st cha cha cha, it was clear he was a front-runner.
Athletes tend to do very well on the show, but you can see from the joy on Jennings’ face that he truly loves dancing and that on top of his hard work and improvement is what led him to win. We love watching him dance as much as we loved watching him play football. In fact, Rashad Jennings continues to dance and just this past Weds, Dec 6, 2017, posted on Twitter about teaching his 1st dance class.
To retirement and beyond
That leads us back again to Fri and Rashad’s retirement from the NY Giants, and the NFL. The 32-year-old player is completely transparent about why he’s retiring. He wasn’t signed by any teams. But his refreshingly ever uplifting attitude, we’re sure will bring this renaissance man to both continue with his charity work and participate in new ventures including more dancing, some poetry, and hopefully acting as well. Will an update to this post be ‘from mirror ball to Academy or Emmy Award?”
We don’t know. But no matter what new “trophies” and accomplishments, are in Jennings’ future, we’re sure he’ll greet them with his same humble attitude and his winning smile.
So, what do you think about Rashad Jennings retirement from the NFL? Was it the right move? Let us know in the comments below.