Seattle Seahawks legend Cortez Kennedy, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, died at age 48.
TMZ first reported Kennedy’s death on Tuesday. His death was confirmed by ESPN and NFL.com. Orlando police told TMZ there was “nothing suspicious” with Kennedy’s death, but the cause of death was unclear.
Kennedy was the third pick of the 1990 NFL draft out of the University of Miami (Fla.). The big, athletic defensive tackle made eight Pro Bowls, was named first-team All-Pro three times and made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was just the second player to spend most or all of his career with the Seahawks and be voted into the Hall of Fame, joining receiver Steve Largent.
In his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, Kennedy talked about his long road to the NFL, working his way up from Northwest Mississippi Community College to Miami to the Seahawks.
“This day, right now, this moment, it’s always about those who came a long way, those who provided support, and those who have cheered, it’s all about the 12th Man,” Kennedy said in his enshrinement speech. “It’s all about those before, and who will come after. It’s all about my beautiful daughter, Courtney. It is all about the players and friends I laughed with over the years. It is about all my teammates I cried with over the years, both in victory and defeat. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s so much bigger than that. It’s about the relationship and about sharing it, and working hard together. It’s about not taking the shortcut.”
The Seahawks put out a heartfelt statement after Kennedy’s death.
Our statement on the passing of Cortez Kennedy. pic.twitter.com/yVtBfMdyp5
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) May 23, 2017
Kennedy played 167 NFL games over 11 seasons, all with Seattle. He was the shining light on some bad Seahawks teams through the 1990s, and appeared in just one playoff game in his storied career. Kennedy was a tough assignment for most offensive guards of his era. Kennedy finished his career with 58 sacks. He had 14 sacks in 1992, which was his best NFL season. He was named NFL defensive player of the year that season.
“The entire Hall of Fame family is stunned and deeply saddened to learn the news of Cortez Kennedy’s passing,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement. “On behalf of the Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, Cortez’s fellow Hall of Famers, and our staff, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans.
“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.”
Really sad to lose a guy like Cortez Kennedy. A great personality, a great player & I enjoyed competing against him. Prayers to his family.
— John Elway (@johnelway) May 23, 2017
Cortez Kennedy was an incredible athlete but he was an even better man.
He will be missed greatly. pic.twitter.com/eTAaTVSJsa
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) May 23, 2017
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