Devon Kennard has heard the joke before.
The Detroit Lions linebacker is involved with so many causes that help metro Detroit youth — from funding scholarships, encouraging reading, raising money for worthy causes, adopting a family at Thanksgiving and working on social-justice and social-resiliency initiatives — it wouldn’t be hard to believe that being a role model is Kennard’s full-time job and that his NFL gig is just a side hustle.
“Hey, I’m very efficient,” the Lions’ co-leader in sacks said with a laugh. “People joke all the time. I’m not a guy that wastes a lot of time. Like I’ve got extra film to (study), I lock in, turn the phone off, get the film done. I go home and spend some time with my family. Then I got the off-the-field stuff. Definitely stay busy.”
Because of all his good deeds, Kennard recently was named the Lions’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The winner will be announced Feb. 1. All nominees received a donation of up to $50,000 for their charity of choice, which for Kennard is the Midnight Golf Program of Detroit.
“He’s always been a guy that wants to make an impact off the field in the community,” Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara said. “That’s something I definitely look up to as well. As a teammate he’s definitely someone I look up to as far as setting a good example for what it takes to be a real pro.”
The NFL encourages its players to be active in their communities. Some give money. Some give their time. Kennard gives both.