Rashad Jennings said he is in good enough shape to play in the NFL right now, but at 32 and with no serious bidders for his services this season, the running back retired on Friday – as a member of the Giants, his team from 2014-16.
“The only reason I’m retiring is I didn’t get picked up; let’s be honest,” he said at the Giants’ training facility while the current team practiced outside. “But also I do understand where I’m at. I’m very aware. I’m at that position where there are a lot of things in life that I really am ambitious about that I’ve been neglecting and holding myself from going into because of my dedication and commitment to this game that I so love.
“By announcing that I’m doing it it’s one, humbling. I get to stop and remember the history of being a little 6-year-old kid, overweight, chubby, asthma . . . that he got to live his dream. It’s not every day you can ask a kid at 6 years old and say, ‘What do you want to do when you get older?’ and you talk to him at 32 years old and he tells you that’s exactly what he’s been doing.
“Because of that I’m full. I’m complete. I’m humbled. I have no regrets. If I could rewind the tape, I’d do it the exact same way. I don’t have any days where I wish I would have worked a little bit harder. I wish I would have ate right. I wish I would have studied more. I did everything I could.
“Because of that I’m humbled and I obviously wanted to retire a Giant because I feel like that’s where I made my staple as an NFL player on and off the football field. The history that this organization has, to be a part of that, is very rewarding and it’s something that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”
Jennings joined the Giants as a free agent from the Jaguars in 2014. In three seasons, he rushed 543 times for 2,095 yards. He rushed for 863 yards in 2015.
Jennings has other interests, including dancing. Last May he won ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition.
So what’s next?
“I’m an autodidact,” he said. “I love learning. I’m always picking up new things. Obviously, I’m not going to dismiss that I’m going to be eventually looking for my wife one day. I’m not going to dismiss a lot of things. Acting is going to be something that’s in the arsenal. Writing books is something that’s in the arsenal. It’s in the works.
“Potentially this dancing I fell in love with is something that I will continue regardless of where I’m at. I actually led a dance class two days ago. [There is] potentially [television] commentating, and poetry I’m going to start taking a lot more seriously. I get to pick up new quirks along the way. I’m a true lover of life.”
He also said he hopes to continue the community work of the Rashad Jennings Foundation.
“Listen, the future is big and it’s bright,” he said. “I know it is. And I’m happy to walk into it and see what God has in store.”
Jennings said despite some early nibbles as a free agent, he did not come close to signing with a team this season.
“I have no bitterness or ill will toward anybody,” he said. “I feel like playing in the NFL is an opportunity, and I had mine.”
His final NFL game ended up being his only career playoff game – a wild-card loss to the Packers after last season. “We made it to the ball, we just didn’t dance that well,” he said. “I got to go somewhere else to dance well later.”