Game Photo: AP Images
NFLPA, Author Brandon Parker:
By the age of six, Devon Kennard pretty much had his life all figured out – or so he thought.
A year earlier, his dad, Derek, had won the Super Bowl as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, sparking wide-eyed Devon’s dream to also become an NFL player. And after balling out at Desert Vista High School in Arizona and landing a scholarship to Southern Cal, Kennard appeared well on his way. But a string of injuries and inconsistent playing time due to coaching changes forced the linebacker to go back to the drawing board.
“While I was in college, I made a decision about what I wanted my life to look like and things I wanted to have,” Kennard recently recalled. “Even if I have a long NFL career, I’ll be retired in my 30s and still have lots of life left. And if I don’t play in the NFL, I still want to have a life with all of those goals and dreams. So what can I do outside the game to make sure those things still happen?”
The winner of the 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award will be announced this weekend and it brings me back to just a year ago when I was in Miami at NFL honors as a finalist for the award waiting to hear if I won or not.
I didn’t win last year, but if I’m honest just being a nominee for such a prestigious award was truly an honor and I want to congratulate all the nominees this year and encourage everyone to continue to do good works in their communities.
Through my own philanthropy work, I’ve found there are two major ways to give back as an athlete. 1. Start your own organization. 2. Find an organization that aligns with your passion and core beliefs and work with them. I chose the latter and have been lucky to work with amazing organizations throughout my NFL career. Major shout out to @newcitykidsjc @midnightgolfdet @icanchandler!
How are you guys giving back to communities and what organizations have you started? What organizations are you working with?
The Arizona Republic, Katherine Fitzgerald, Sports front page feature:
Devon Kennard has spent a lot of time giving back throughout his seven years in the league. That was a huge draw of signing with his hometown team: the chance to deepen his relationships with the Arizona community.