Kenny Easley Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
And Kenny Easley now makes it an even four Seahawks Legends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame’s selection committee today officially transitioned Easley from “senior finalist” to “Class of 2017.” He will join his former teammate, Steve Largent, who was enshrined in the Hall in 1995, as well as Seahawks Legends Cortez Kennedy (enshrined in 2012), and Walter Jones (enshrined in 2014).
“I’m enormously grateful for this opportunity,” said Easley on his selection. “To be reconsidered after 20 years, I’m glad it happened now, because I feel that if it had happened in 1997, I wouldn’t be as grateful as I am right now at age 58 for this to happen. So that means a great deal that it happened to me now.”
For Largent, it’s a well-deserved honor for his former teammate. “Kenny was just a consummate athlete, football player, and leader,” he said. “When we had him on defense, I didn’t worry about the defensive side of the ball. I knew he was going to take care of it.”
Joining Easley in the Class of 2017 are:
• Morten Andersen, Kicker (New Orleans Saints – 1982-1994; Atlanta Falcons – 1995-2000, 2006-07; N.Y. Giants – 2001; Kansas City Chiefs – 2002-03; Minnesota Vikings – 2004)
• Terrell Davis, Running Back (Denver Broncos – 1995-2001)
• Jason Taylor, Defensive End (Miami Dolphins – 1997-2007, 2009, 2011; Washington Redskins – 2008; N.Y. Jets – 2010)
• LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back (San Diego Chargers – 2001-09; N.Y. Jets – 2010-11)
• Kurt Warner, Quarterback (St. Louis Rams – 1998-2003; N.Y. Giants – 2004; Arizona Cardinals – 2005-09)
• Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner (Contributor)
Easley was selected out of UCLA by the Seahawks in the first round, as the 4th pick overall, in the 1981 NFL Draft. He quickly became an intimidating force at safety in his seven years with the team, earning AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after returning three interceptions for 155 yards, including one for an 82-yard touchdown. He also made a career-high four fumble recoveries.
Easley earned his nickname, “The Enforcer”, for this aggressive style of play on the field.
“I’m vicious, no doubt about it. I play the game in a vicious manner,” he said in a 1980s interview. “I’m not out there to hurt anyone, but my game is an aggressive type of game: play hard, hit people hard, and make things happen on defense.”
An all-around great athlete, he continued to earn recognition for his abilities, including AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1983. That season, he recorded seven interceptions which he returned for 106 yards, and he posted a career-high three sacks.
“I just love the way he played. He was the most intense guy on the field, the hardest working, and also the best athlete,” said former teammate Blair Bush.
Easley was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1984 by the Associated Press when he registered a league-leading and career-best 10 interceptions and two pick-sixes. He also earned first-team All-Pro honors in four straight seasons, from 1982 to 1985.
During his career, Easley amassed 32 interceptions which he returned for 538 yards and three touchdowns in 89 career games, and he had eight career sacks. He also took on punt return duties in the 1982-1985 seasons, returning 16 in the 1984 season for 194 yards total and a 12.1 average.
“No disrespect to my other teammates, but Kenny might have been one of the better athletes and football players overall that I ever played with,” said former teammate Dave Krieg. “He was smart, physical, and intense. He was the kind of guy you wanted on your team.”
“I played college ball with him, he was ‘the intimidator’, and I loved how he played the game,” said Johnson. “I’m a big fan.”
Easley was named to five Pro Bowls and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s, in addition to many other honors he earned in his seven years with the Seahawks.
Lawyer Milloy played with the Seahawks in the 2009-2010 seasons, and he admired Easley while growing up in the Puget Sound area.
“I also played safety, and I grew up in Tacoma and watched him play,” said Milloy. “He set the standard of what I wanted to become in the NFL.”
Easley was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor in 2002.
“I will never get this feeling out of my heart,” said Easley, reflecting on another great honor befitting a Seahawks and NFL Legend.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 enshrinement will be on Saturday, August 5, 2017, in Canton, Ohio.