Rashad Jennings is spreading the love — both literally and figuratively — this Valentine’s Day.
“I do not have a special Valentine this year,” the season 24 Dancing with the Stars champ tells PEOPLE. “And so, that’s part of why I’m spending time spreading love.”
For fans who have hoped to meet the former New York Giants player, he’ll be handing out red roses in Times Square, New York, on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to noon — and he’s “looking forward to obviously meeting some Giants fans, some DWTS fans, collective fans, but also just being a pure symbol of spreading love on this day.”
“I’ve played in the league for eight years and it’s an American gladiator sport, if you will, and since I’m retired, I get to take off my helmet and even show more of the romantic side and get into things that I’m really passionate about,” he says. “I love Valentine’s Day, just like I love every other holiday, because there’s a different aura in the air.”
“I love romanticism, if you will, and I just get to promote it more,” says Jennings, who has partnered with 1-800-Flowers to hand out the long-stemmed florals. “As far as them as a business and myself as a person, we both have the same ideas of putting smiles on people’s faces and doing it through the form of emotions and symbols of love.”
Though Jennings doesn’t have a Valentine this year, he will be celebrating a very special lady in his life: his mom.
“Every year I try to send her something different. She likes collecting certain things. So every year, I’ll always try to find something that kind of sticks out and shows some type of appreciation for somebody that covers you,” he says. “My mom covers me. And so I always try to show her that type of love, of: thank you for covering me. She really appreciates that, so that’s what I’m doing this year.”
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Since his winning season of DWTS last spring, the NFL alum has kept very busy, including continuing work with his foundation, pursuing a career in acting — “I’m going to be moving out to L.A. soon though for a little bit to get myself dabbled into some acting a little bit more,” he shares — and writing a book: The If in Life, dropping May 8.
“It’s a play on words. When you spell out the word life, if is in the middle and I kind of just talk about all of the different ifs in my life that I had to overcome through adversity and triumph to make it to the position I find myself in now as a 32-year-old man,” he says about the book. “Whether you realize it or not, certain moments in life, no matter how significant or small they seem, can change your path and have a positive impact on where you go and how successful you become,” he explained in an Instagram post.
While Jennings’ DWTS days are over, he’s continued to dance competitively — “It’s a part of me that I’m never going to let go,” he previously told PEOPLE — and has a few A-list celebs in mind that he’d love to see follow in his footsteps on the ABC reality dancing competition series.
“I would love to see Will Smith do it. He would be awesome to watch. Serena Williams would be fun to see what she does. I’d like to see Oprah on there,” shares Jennings. “I know Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. did that Super Bowl commercial, so I’d like to see what Eli would do.”