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Rashad Jennings just the latest Giants player to shine in pop culture world

Former Giants running back Rashad Jennings won

Former Giants running back Rashad Jennings won "Dancing with the Stars" on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Photo Credit: ABC / Craig Sjodin

Reality show check: While dancing and football achievement have much in common, in that coordination and practice are required to do either one well, there are limits.

For Exhibit A, compare two Giants: Lawrence Taylor and Rashad Jennings.

The former finished seventh on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, lower than most people would rank the linebacker savant on the list of greatest players in NFL history.

The latter won “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday, which outranked his achievements in three middling seasons as a Giants running back from 2014-16.

Yes, Jennings is a free agent whose Giants days presumably are over, but the Giants are his most recent team and therefore he still counts as one of ours for today’s purposes.

It is the same theory that applies to David Ross, whom Jennings outdid in the “DWTS” finale. Ross is retired, but he still is a Cub, one who owns two career championship rings, like Taylor but unlike Jennings.

Anyway, championships are not our subject here. The subject is Jennings taking his place in a long line of New York-area jocks who have leveraged Big Town visibility into pop culture fame, from reality TV to scripted programs to commercials.

And no team has played that game better than the Giants.

They have had a “Bachelor,” in Jesse Palmer’s reality show turn, one of a pair of “Brothers,” in Michael Strahan’s Fox sitcom and a “Marlboro Man,” in Charlie Conerly’s long-ago cigarette ads.

Strahan went on to co-host a morning show with Kelly Ripa, and now is a regular on “Good Morning America.”

Even Giants offspring have added to their pop culture pedigree. Jordin Sparks, a daughter of former cornerback Phillippi Sparks, won “American Idol” in 2007, when that still meant something.

Oh, and this week Odell Beckham Jr. signed a deal with Nike reportedly worth more than $29 million, which might result in a few television pitches in the coming years.

All that is not even to mention the Giants’ decades-long place in sports broadcasting, including Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Pat Summerall, Sam Huff, Fran Tarkenton, Phil Simms, Tiki Barber, Danny Kanell, Strahan, Palmer and others.

Back to Jennings: Rarely has a veteran athlete been more excited to be playoff-bound for the first time than he was in the week leading up to the Giants’ wild-card game against the Packers last season.

Jennings had not so much played on a winning team in his seven NFL seasons before 2016.

“Finally,” he said, beaming. “Finally, man. It doesn’t happen every year. Obviously, I’m living proof of that. To hear that you’re going to get a chance to play that 17th game, that’s a steppingstone to a dream come true.”

The Giants lost, 38-13, Jennings ran five times for 29 yards and Beckham punched a hall in a Lambeau Field wall. Dreams don’t always come true.

But good for Jennings to get to live one Tuesday night, even if many fans of the show were surprised he beat out Normani Kordei of the musical group “Fifth Harmony” on the final night. She ended up third.

Jennings joined former football-player winners Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward and Donald Driver, and is set to be part of the “DWTS” summer tour.

The guy worked hard throughout the competition and poignantly told the audience before he got to hoist the coveted Mirrorball Trophy that he never had won “the big prize” in any major competition. Nice.

Taylor? He just will have to settle for his two Lombardi Trophies, being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame . . . oh, and acting appearances in the likes of “The Waterboy,” “Any Given Sunday,” “Shaft” and “The Sopranos.”

When it comes to present and former Giants, the show always goes on.

New York Sports