Kennedy, Cortez (1968-2017)

Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1990, Proline Portraits 1992
Acquired: TTM 1992, C/o The Seattle Seahawks

Cortez Kennedy burst onto the NFL scene in 1990, as the Seahawks traded up to get the defensive lineman from the University of Miami. A prolonged holdout his rookie season kept him on the bench throughout the year which largely destroyed his 1990 season. Things weren’t looking good for the young defensive tackle, but Kennedy turn things around and would only go on to be named Pro Bowl in 8 of the next 10 seasons, dominating offensive linemen enroute to NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1992- a season in which Kennedy had 14 sacks.  He’d also be named All Pro in 1992,1993,1994 and second team AP in 1996. At 6-3, 305 Kennedy was a fearsome force that was well balanced against the pass and dominating against the run. As the years caught up to Kennedy, he retired after the 2000 season playing his whole career in a Seahawks uniform. It’s a shame that he played for such bad Seahawks teams because he rarely got the credit he deserved.  At the time of his retirement he’d be named to the Seahawks Ring of Honor and to the NFL team of the 1990s. In 2010 he was inducted into the U HoF. Since football, curiosity has gotten the best of Kennedy and he has developed an interest in football operations. He’s been serving on and off as a consultant to the New Orleans Saints organization.

Kennedy has been a Hall of Fame semifinalist on 3 occasions now, however I speculate that he has a much steeper hill to climb than most. Defensive players do not get their due, and Kennedy overall didn’t have sexy statistics, or play for even a regular playoff team. He largely played in a city that has very few HoF members, with a few spot performers on defense, and no serious competition at defensive tackle over the decade. Although Kennedy was a trend-setter because of his great blend of mobility and size- I doubt that he would have received as many accolades if he played half his career in the 1980s. Regardless, I’m not raining on his parade, as I think eventually once the loggerjam of defensive players are loosened he will get in. In 2011, Cortez was honored by the Seattle Seahawks who selected him to announce their 2nd round pick during the NFL draft.

Kennedy was the first Seahawk I probably sent out for, and when I opened the letter, I was surprised to find an additional card signed from the lineman. Inside I found an explanation that apparently he had crushed the Action Packed Card when he was signing it, and wanted to give me another for my trouble. Now that’s not only class, but caring as well. What a guy! Here’s his statistics and a short video from YouTube on him.

G/Gs 167/153      Tac 668     Sac 58    Fum 11
Int 3    Yds 26    Avg 8.6   Td 0   Lg 21

UPDATE 5/23/17 –   In 2012, a little over a year after this post, Kennedy made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Later that year the Seahawks officially retired his jersey.  Cortez Kennedy passed away at the age of 48 today. The current cause of his death is unknown.