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Devon Kennard’s dad, Derek, explains how the Cards OLB turned to defense

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is sacked by Detroit Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard (42) as offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (64) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Offensive lineman Derek Kennard spent five of his 13 NFL seasons with the Cardinals franchise and made the move with the team from St. Louis to Phoenix before the 1988 season.

His kids grew up in the Valley, and so it’s no surprise he was especially giddy that his youngest, Devon Kennard, found his way back home by signing with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent.

But the most pertinent question for Derek when he joined Ron Wolfley and Paul Calvisi on Thursday’s Big Red Rage show was about why his son, an outside linebacker, didn’t follow in his footsteps as an offensive lineman. And Derek provided a darn good story behind it.

“Right after I retired and left football, I went into coaching,” Derek said. “While I was coaching him in Pop Warner, Devon didn’t like being coached by dad because he would get coached up on the way to practice, on the way home from practice, during practice and also at dinner. It was just a little overwhelming for him to download all the information I was trying to stuff down his throat.

“This kid called a family meeting — nobody in my family called a freakin’ family meeting before him, he’s the baby of course. He says, ‘Hey, I want dad to not coach me ever again and I want to play defense. That was the beginning of the end of dad coaching. I get it, man, I get it. That’s when him and I became closer. As opposed to just shoving this football thing down his throat, I could just be dad.”

The decision made by Devon has turned out well so far. He earned an offer from USC as a five-star prospect out of Desert Vista High School in the 2009 class.

Kennard was a fifth-round pick by the New York Giants in 2014 and played the last two years in Detroit before the Lions tried to trade and ultimately released him as the 2020 league year began.

A deal with Arizona came together quickly, and he’ll now slot in as a starting pass-rusher opposite Pro Bowler Chandler Jones.

“My dad was super excited,” Devon said of his homecoming this week on a conference call. “He couldn’t believe it.”


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