NFL Star Pens New Series for Tween Boys

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Rashad-JenningsRashad JenningsRashad Jennings, retired NFL running back and Dancing with the Stars champion, is a man with many talents, dreams, and life goals. Some he's already accomplished—playing in the NFL for eight seasons—and some he's working on now. He created the Rashad Jennings Foundation, focusing on reading education and mentorship, and health and fitness (; he organized a date night that blends his new love for ballroom dancing and his desire to be a marriage counselor one day; and he's written "Arcade and the Triple T Token," first of four in The Coin Slot Chronicles. The second releases later this year (

Jennings was in Grand Rapids recently for several events and to visit the offices of Zondervan, publisher of his new series. In the first book, Arcade is given a golden arcade token necklace that grants him the ability to time travel into the past and even into his future. He and his sister Zoe and a few friends have a lot of problems to solve!

How did you come up with the name Arcade for your 11-year-old character?

When I was growing up, everyone had an alternative name. I think Arcade should have been my middle name or my nickname. I wondered why my parents didn't name me Arcade. When people would ask me what I would name my son, I say Arcade!

page1image2487797888Did you base Arcade on yourself?

Sixty percent of Arcade is me: all the good parts and some of the bad parts. Like me, he finds himself in trouble but not harm, like I did. Also, Arcade asks 50,000 questions, like I ask 50,000 questions of God. I question everything, make everyone think outside the box.

How do your books for kids play into the Reading Challenge through your foundation?

I'm hoping Arcade attracts kids to read. I had a reading comprehension deficit and still do, so reading is important to me. My goal is to have the Reading Challenge in all 32 cities where NFL teams are located. Kids read as many books as they can, and are entered into a drawing to win sports memorabilia. Normally the NFL players throw away stuff like used hats, shirts, and shoes, but instead I get them to sign them and use them to help kids get excited about reading.

What are your thoughts on marriage and kids?

Healing a marriage essentially helps the kids. I've found that healthy communities typically have healthy marriages, and broken communities typically have broken marriages. I've been working on the concept of how ballroom dancing is much like the relationship between a man and a woman. So, I'm planning an event for married and engaged couples, and those in a relationship. There's a panel of marriage counselors who answer questions for an hour, then an hour of teaching ballroom dancing. It's something fun and different.

What are your next steps?

I moved to Los Angeles to get into acting and television, and am working on a cooking show about grilling and co-executive producing my first film. Basically, I'm doing so many things and having fun with life; I'm eager to see what God has for me. I want to enjoy everything God has given me until the day I die.

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Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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