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Former NY Giants star talks to Kidsday reporters

Former NFL star and author Rashad Jennings with

Former NFL star and author Rashad Jennings with Kidsday reporters, from left, Michael Standel, Eve Arevalo, Mavin Iannotta and Jayvien Echevarria at NFL Experience Times Square in Manhattan on May 8. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

Last week we went to NFL Experience Times Square in Manhattan and met NY Giants former running back Rashad Jennings.

Rashad’s career started on the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009. He was selection number 250 in the 7th round of the NFL Draft. Rashad was running back on all of his teams. Running backs stand in the backfield and when a running play is called, guys like Rashad run the ball. He was named as a starter running back in 2012. In 2013 he was a free agent and went to the Oakland Raiders. His best rushing game was for 150 yards. On March 12, 2014, Rashad signed a four year $14 million contract with the New York Giants.

We met Rashad because he was in Manhattan to talk about his book, “The IF in Life: How to Get Off Life’s Sidelines And Become Your Best Self,” (Zondervan Books). This book is about Rashad’s life and achieving his goal of becoming a running back in the NFL. In high school he had a problem trying to be a running back because he was 270 pounds and had asthma. He was also not very good in academics. He had a .6 GPA. But he pursued his coaches to let him play. On the last game of his junior year he got the chance to play. In that game he scored four touchdowns — two on offense and two on defense. What changed his life was a Tennessee scout who was at the game. He asked Rashad about his grades and Rashad told him they were not good. The scout told Rashad to get his grades up and he would go places in football. The rest of the book has stories about his rise in the NFL, his family and his beliefs. This is an interesting book and we recommend you read it.

We got the opportunity to talk to Rashad at the NFL Experience. He was a positive and very nice guy. We asked him what made him write this book and he said he had always wanted to write a book. The book is great considering he had such a low GPA in high school. Also, we asked what attributes we needed to be a successful like he is and he told us we needed to have discipline and to not be afraid to stand alone. It was funny, he said that sometimes the knuckleheads want to distract you but you need to be OK with being alone and not joining in. We asked what player hit him the hardest and he said it was Clint Session he played for the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars who was not very tall but that he had a lot of leverage.

We think his best answer was his last answer because it applies to everything you do in life. We asked Rashad what attributes are needed to be an NFL player?

He said, “Discipline. You have to have a passion and self-motivation. Not every single person is going to be able to push you. You have to find it in yourself and keep encouraging yourself and believe in yourself.”

We also wanted to know how it felt to wear the costumes on “Dancing With the Stars,” since as a kid, it said in his book, that he wouldn’t take ballet because he would have to wear tights. He said he doesn’t mind wearing them at all now — he has grown up.

We really enjoyed meeting Rashad. He was nice, friendly and really patient because he signed about a million things for us. We think you should read his book because it is inspiring for kids and adults.

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