Remembering Cortez Kennedy

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The Seattle Seahawks organization, Seahawks fans, and the NFL community are saddened at the sudden passing of Cortez Kennedy, who died Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. He was 48.

“Nothing suspicious to report. OPD conducting investigation into his unattended passing,” the Orlando Police Department tweeted.

“Cortez Kennedy has been a pillar of the Seahawks franchise since joining the team as a rookie in 1990,” the Seahawks said in a statement. “Tez was the heart and soul of the Seahawks through the 1990s and endeared himself to 12s all across the Pacific Northwest as a player who played with a selfless and relentless approach to the game. We are proud to have been represented by such a special person.”

Drafted third-overall in the 1990 NFL Draft out of Miami, Kennedy was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 after an 11-year career with the Seahawks, in which the defensive tackle racked up 58 sacks, was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and earned five All-Pro selections. Kennedy was also inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor in 2006.

Kennedy was one of the first 300-pound defenders who was as adept at getting to the quarterback as he was stopping the run, recording 14 sacks during the 1992 campaign. He opened the door for future bigger-bodied defenders to be utilized in a number of ways, showing he was nimble enough to keep up with shifty running backs while also being powerful, quick and durable, appearing in 167 of a possible 176 games. At one point in Kennedy’s career, he played in 116 straight games and set a club record with 100 consecutive starts.

He is one of three Seahawks, who played their entire careers in Seattle, that are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with Kenny Easley to be enshrined in August, and he was also named the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year and is a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team.

Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker said, “The entire Hall of Fame family is stunned and deeply saddened to learn the news of Cortez Kennedy’s passing. Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field. He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans.”

Kennedy was also inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. With the Hurricanes, he made 114 tackles in just 22 games, including 8.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.

Even though he last played for the Seahawks in 2000, he remained a significant part of the organization. He was a mainstay around the team during training camp and would occasionally roll through the locker room during the regular season grabbing a few minutes with anyone — players, coaches, media — up for a chat.

A public memorial service for Kennedy will be held in his hometown of Osceola, Arkansas, on June 1 at 11:00 am at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, with a public viewing beginning at 10:00 am. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to Kennedy’s high school:

Rivercrest High School Athletic Club
Attn: Mike Smith
1700 State Highway 14
Wilson, Arkansas 72395