Seahawks’ Cortez Kennedy among new Hall of Famers
Cortez Kennedy spent years waiting for his Hall of Fame call, which is kind of funny considering how he learned of his selection on Saturday.
“I had to watch it on TV like everyone else,” Kennedy said. The selections were announced on the NFL Network, and when Kennedy learned that his 11-year career as a Seattle Seahawk had earned him the honor of enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, well, there wasn’t much else to do.
“I cried,” he said. “It was so emotional.” Kennedy will be present in Indianapolis on Sunday for the Super Bowl, and he will be inducted into the hall on Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
Kennedy was one of 17 finalists considered Saturday by the Hall of Fame selection committee in Indianapolis. He was one of six who will be inducted this year, meaning he received at least 80 percent of the votes from the 44-member panel. Cornerback Jack Butler, center Dermontti Dawson, pass-rusher Chris Doleman, running back Curtis Martin and offensive tackle Willie Roaf were also selected.
Kennedy is 43, and this was his fourth time as a Hall of Fame finalist. He will be the seventh player who was a member of the Seahawks to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but only the second to be inducted as a Seahawk joining Steve Largent, who was honored in 1995.
Kennedy was at his home in Orlando, Fla., when he learned of the news. He was elated. He was grateful. Mostly, he was overwhelmed.
“I don’t know what to say,” he said.
That’s OK. His career spoke for itself. He was a defensive tackle, as thankless a job as there as in football, and he played that underappreciated position for a team that can often be overlooked in the NFL.
Yet Kennedy was so singularly dominant that he was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1992, a year in which he had 14 sacks on a team that went 2-14. He was named to the Pro Bowl eight times in his 11 seasons, and voted first-team All-Pro three times. Tackle Walter Jones is the only Seahawk with more Pro Bowl selections. He was named to the game nine times.
But honors don’t really explain Kennedy’s impact nearly so much as the men who played behind him.
“He was just so disruptive,” said Dave Wyman, former Seahawks linebacker. “He would wipe out two or three gaps by himself.”
Wyman was teammates with Kennedy for three years in Seattle, including that 1992 season.
Playing defensive tackle is as close as football gets to a boiler room. Defensive ends are measured by sacks, and linebackers rack up tackles. A defensive tackle is expected to occupy blockers and hold his ground. Kennedy did much more than that.
“They were so many times that he would suck up all the blockers, and make the tackles, too,” Wyman said.
Kennedy was drafted No. 3 overall in the 1990 draft, chosen out of Miami. He played 167 games in his career, all as a Seahawk. He had offers from other teams to keep playing after 1990, but he wasn’t interested in playing anywhere else. He finished eighth in Seahawks history in tackles with 668 and fourth in sacks with 58.
The ultimate measurement of his career came Saturday, though, when he saw his Seahawks career given the ultimate honor of the Hall of Fame.