Seahawks legendary defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy passed away this week. Let’s take a moment to remember the Hall of Famer.
According to reports from Orlando police, Cortez Kennedy has passed away at the age of 48. The cause of death is unclear but one thing is clear, he will be sorely missed. Kennedy was drafted third overall in 1990 by the Seahawks from the Miami Hurricanes after being a part of the 1987 and 1989 National Championship teams for the ‘Canes.
Once Kennedy got to Seattle, he made an immediate impact. He collected 48 tackles and one sack in his rookie campaign. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1991 after 6.5 sacks and 73 tackles with a fumble forced.
In 1992, he won the AP Defensive Player of the Year. He had a career-high 14 sacks with 92 tackles in one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history for a defensive lineman. He also forced four fumbles. He went on to eight Pro Bowls and earned First Team All-Pro in three consecutive seasons.
He finished his career with 58 sacks and 568 tackles.
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Beyond the numbers, teams had to gameplan around Kennedy as an interior defensive lineman. He messed with the opposition’s blocking schemes just by his mere presence. He was one of the best three-technique lineman in football (3-technique meaning a lineman who normally lines up in the gap between the guard and tackle). He revolutionized the way teams used 300-pound interior lineman. He was a pioneer for guys like Warren Sapp.
The Seahawks made the playoffs once in his 11 seasons. In 1999, they went 9-7 and won the NFC West. Kennedy was a bright spot in an era of Seahawks football that was mostly disappointing. The Hawks only had two winning seasons in during his Seahawks career.
Kennedy had a reputation for being a nasty “brick wall with cleats” on the field and a gentle giant of a gentleman off the field. That is the perfect football player. In 2006, he was inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor. His number 96 was retired and according to SI.com, Kennedy was the greatest football player to ever wear 96.
In 2012, he received the ultimate honor for a professional football player. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and his bust will forever be in Canton. He loved the Seahawks and the feeling was mutual. He will be sorely missed and there is a giant hole in the Seahawks family now.