Devon Kennard Hoping to Pave Own Cardinals Legacy
As a young boy born in Tempe, Ariz., playing football and attending Phoenix Desert Vista High, Devon Kennard had familiarity with the Arizona Cardinals long before he even had NFL aspirations. That deeply rooted knowledge was expanded when his father, Derek Kennard, joined the franchise in 1986 (then called the St. Louis Cardinals), where he played along the offensive line until 1990.
The eldest Kennard had a 13-year NFL career that most notably included a 27-17 win in Super Bowl XXX with the Dallas Cowboys over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The younger Kennard, now entering his seventh year in the league, was exposed to the lifestyle from an early age and he said it motivated him to achieve greatness in his own life — wherever that path may have led.
"My dad had a 13-year professional career, so it was something I always loved," Devon Kennard told SI.com's AllCardinals. "I grew up playing football and basketball, but football — obviously with the genes already — was something that came natural and something I wanted to do. I saw my dad doing it and then in my house growing up we had a Super Bowl trophy because my dad won a Super Bowl with the Cowboys. So, it was always like, that was possible for me. For as long as I can remember it was something I wanted to do."
Coincidentally, or not, Devon Kennard's success story was written by football, too. Not only that, but when he was released by the Detroit Lions this past offseason and the Cardinals had interest, it created an opportunity that has brought him full circle.
"It's a little surreal," Devon Kennard said. "My dad spent a lot of time here playing for the Cardinals. That's why my family ended up making this home and why we live here to this day. So, to be able to play for the same organization, I think that's rare. That doesn't happen a ton and to be able to do that in my hometown and everything is just something I'm truly grateful for. It's a great opportunity and I really believe in the team that we have and what we can do this year.
"Being able to play in the place that I grew up in and I loved — and I haven't been able to live here for a long time. I spent four and a half years of college (at USC) and then played in the NFL, going into my seventh year, so I come here for a couple of months in the offseason and that's usually it. So, it's already weird for my family that I'm still here, I'm still around and I'm not going anywhere."
Lucky for the Kennard family, Devon was already in Arizona when he got the news that he was being released by the Lions. And although that was a bitter pill to swallow for the former team captain and NFLPA representative, it gave him a chance to achieve a dream that he said he never considered attainable. The fact that Arizona is his family's home base makes it even sweeter.
"As soon as the season ended I got out of Detroit," Devon Kennard said. "It's freezing cold in Detroit, so I usually spend the cold months here and I wasn't expecting to be released from the Lions, at least in the same day. The Cardinals and my agent started really hashing out a deal and working on a contract and I was already here and local, so it worked out pretty quickly. Things happened fast and it was just kind of weird, like, 'Whoa. I'm here, but I'm not going to have to leave this time.' It's weird."