Super Bowl winner Kennard points all in right direction
By Bob Highfill
Record Staff Writer
January 31, 2009 6:00 AM
Direction is a big word in Derek Kennard's life.
The former NFL offensive lineman who earned a Super Bowl ring with the Dallas Cowboys in 1996, received direction from his mother while growing up in the Conway Homes housing project in South Stockton and from his football coach at Edison High, the legendary Charles Washington.
Kennard also has reason to smile as the Cardinals, the franchise where he began his 11-year NFL career, are the improbable underdogs in Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Kennard spent his first two seasons as a pro in the United States Football League with the Los Angeles Express before joining the Cardinals.
"All these years of not making the playoffs, it's great to finally see these guys move on, and the owner (Bill Bidwill) and the administration worked so hard for this," said Kennard, who has lived in Phoenix since the Cardinals moved there from St. Louis in 1988. "I've seen them work long and hard to move in this direction."
Kennard signed with the Cardinals in 1986 and spent five seasons with the franchise, including the last three in Arizona. He spent the next three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, where he made 32 consecutive starts at right guard.
Kennard still hadn't played for a team that made the playoffs, but that changed when in 1994 he agreed to play for the Dallas Cowboys. The storied franchise was in the midst of one of its most successful stints, led by future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, who already had led Dallas to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Kennard, who had a separated shoulder at the time, played one of the best games of his career in Super Bowl XXX on Jan. 26, 1996, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., the Cardinals' home field, where the Cowboys beat the Steelers 27-17.
Kennard retired following the 1996 season.
Kennard said he would like to see the Cardinals win the Super Bowl, and he has some words of wisdom for both teams - the same words that made him the player he was and the man he is.
"You have to pay attention to details," he said. "No penalties, no turnovers. You really have to pay attention to them."