Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy died Tuesday at the age of 48. A Seahawks icon, Kennedy played his entire 11-year career in Seattle, from 1990-2000, and started 153 of 167 games. He was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year and eight-time Pro Bowler.
The city of Seattle, needless to say, is in mourning.
“They are – one, of course, because he was still relatively young, and two, he was awesome and cool and dominant before the Seahawks were awesome and cool and dominant,” Tacoma News Tribune Seahawks writer Gregg Bell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Just imagine how good he was. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 with 14 sacks as a defensive tackle, which is hard to get. Even still today, that’s a great number for a defensive tackle in a pass-happy league. But he did that in 1992 for a Seahawks team that went 2-14. We’re talking (about a) Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers-type quality team that he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for. That will put into perspective what kind of career he had and how brilliant he was for a very mediocre team way before Pete Carroll, Mike Holmgren, Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, Richard Sherman, and Russell Wilson. Way before any of that, way before they went to Super Bowls, it was Cortez Kennedy anchoring a defensive line at defensive tackle, which is usually a relatively anonymous position that eats up blockers for inside linebackers and defensive ends to go get the stats.”
Kennedy’s impact, however, went beyond the numbers.
“Everyone out here from the Seahawks, from the community – teammates, former teammates, coaches, fans – knew him as such a gentle giant, teddy bear-type of guy,” Bell said. “(He was) 6-3, 310 pounds, yet always smiling, always laughing, making people feel very special and part of his group – even if they were just a man on the street. That’s the kind of person that people in Seattle knew him as and that’s why they miss him and are so shocked by this, the personal connection they felt with a player that – as big as he is and as star-studded as he was – he should have been untouchable. Yet, he felt like an everyman to people out here.”