In April 2013, the Oakland Raiders signed unrestricted free agent Rashad Jennings as running back. Jennings had spent the previous four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars who had drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft out of Liberty University, which is located in Jennings’ home state of Virginia. Jennings had initially started at the University of Pittsburgh with a major in psychology and sociology heading down a road toward his ultimate dream of becoming a counselor.
He chose to transfer to Liberty University despite none of his Pitt credits transferring because it was about ten minutes from his parents’ house. He wanted to be able to be near his mother to help her look after his diabetic father who had to have a leg amputated. Because none of his credits transferred, he had to pick a major in order to stay eligible and Jennings chose to go with sports management and business with a minor in biblical education.
He launched his own foundation earlier this year, Rashad Jennings Foundation, which he is hoping will provide high school students with accountability as well as the encouragement to pursue a college degree. One of the foundation’s goals is to have professionals such as sports figures, celebrities, and physicians, etc. adopt a school and once a week, conduct a live feed with a brief personal message.
This is one of the reasons that he had initially wanted to become a counselor because he feels that he is called to impact lives. He is a devout Christian who, in his spare time, frequently visits schools in order to motivate and encourage both students and faculty. His topics range from fitness to bullying. Jennings makes it a priority to give back throughout the year and during the regular season, spends a couple hours on Tuesdays, which is his day off, to his community.
As for spending his fifth season with the Raiders, he is enjoying being part of a team with a storied history. Jennings talks about knowing the history of the Raiders as well as the pride of the team. He says, “I knew the fan base of the team. The history behind it speaks for itself. Watching football on TV as a little kid, growing up and seeing the Raiders, there’s always been something behind the colors and what it stood for. I’m proud to be a part of it.” Jennings was excited to get to the bay area and get started with the team.
He talked about how all his teammates were welcoming to him and he could see that they were energized and excited for the season. To Jennings, Raiders football is “dirty, backyard football, in your face, pound, pound, pound, ugly. That’s what football is about and I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s going to bring out what’s expected.”
Jennings is active on social media and oftentimes uses it to send out inspirational messages to fans. One can really tell that he feels that he was put here to impact the lives of others in some way or another. When he originally moved to the bay area to get started with the Raiders, he recalled multiple people advising him to make sure that he had cash on him for tolls before he gets to San Francisco.
When he went to the ATM in his hotel, he noted that whoever had been there before him had forgotten a $20 bill. He finished getting his cash out and then proceeded to ask the front desk staff and everyone in the lobby if they had just used the ATM. Everyone said no and then one guest had pointed out a couple of police officers standing nearby and it turned out one of them had just used the ATM. Jennings approached them to return the $20 and the officer was so surprised by his behavior, asking where he was from as people from around there wouldn’t have returned it. Jennings and the officer became friends and the officer was the one who helped him find a place to live in the bay area.
Raider Nation was very happy to welcome Jennings to the Raiders this year. Jennings, a self proclaimed hard worker who takes pride in his work both on and off field, describes himself as a total dork and admits to loving magic. He talks about his off field interests saying, “I’m just trapped in this body that decided to work and play this game called football. I like to play the guitar. I love magic, so I like magic tricks, card tricks. I like a good movie. I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m a community guy, easy-going people person.”
He’s a very welcome addition to the Raiders and Raider Nation was thrilled to see the hard work that he put in during Darren McFadden’s absences. He was the team’s leading rusher this season, finishing with 733 yards and six touchdowns. Fans are very much looking forward to seeing more production from him next season if the Raiders can re-sign him. If so, Raider Nation may even be in for a magic trick or two.