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'Monday Night Football' debut excites Giants' Rashad Jennings

Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) during the

Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) during the first half of a game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

Rashad Jennings was added to the Giants roster this offseason because he was an experienced running back. But when the Giants open their season on Monday, he'll be as wide-eyed -- and moist-eyed -- as any rookie.

This is Jennings' sixth NFL season, but he spent the first five of those years playing for the Jaguars and the Raiders. That meant a lack of national attention. So when he takes the field in Detroit, it will be his first game on "Monday Night Football."

"As a little kid, you know that theme song in the back of your head," Jennings said with a big smile on Thursday.


"It's fun," he said. "Under the lights. After the national anthem, maybe shed a couple of tears, as soon as the first snap it's back to football. We have to be able to handle that type of environment. We're going into a hostile environment. It's the first game for them, too. It's a grown-man game. It's going to be fun."

For many of the Giants, playing on Monday Night is no biggie. When you've been to a Super Bowl or even playoff games and performed in bigger, more successful markets, it becomes a regular part of the season. Eli Manning, for instance, has played in 11 previous Monday Nighters (he's 7-4 with 21 TDs and 15 interceptions in case you are wondering).

Jennings said he'll probably come out on the field early in warmups to soak up some of the atmosphere.

"All the work and dedication that every single person has been putting in since preseason, we all get to validate that effort on Monday night," he said.

As for the tears, the running back said it will be more a function of the song than the situation. He said "The Star Spangled Banner" always gets him choked up. He even got a little emotional when he heard it before his nephew's basketball game this offseason. But for him, it also means an opportunity.

"Take David Wilson, take any guy," he said, pointing to the 23-year-old teammate whose career ended earlier this summer because of a neck injury. "You never take it for granted. This is something I've wanted to do since I was 6 and I was told I couldn't and all the reasons why I couldn't. To be able to overcome all of those, I'll never take it for granted."

New York Sports