Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seahawks Cortez Kennedy elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame!

By Kshell

The year of the 12th man in 2012 has started off with a big bang as former Seattle Seahawks standout Cortez Kennedy has finally been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For Kennedy the former defensive tackle he'll become only the second Seahawk elected into the hall of fame(the Seahawks have had guys who played for them elected) joining legendary wide receiver Steve Largent. He had been passed over in the past but will finally be shrined in Canton, Ohio. Kennedy spent his entire career with the Seahawks from 1990-2000 where he was an eight-time pro bowler, three-time first team all-pro and won the defensive MVP in 1992 on a 2-14 team. Kennedy was the reason why Seahawks fans still cared about the franchise in the 90's.

Kennedy was the third pick overall in the draft coming from the University of Miami. During his rookie year he held out all of preseason and had a minimal impact starting just two games. That year the Seahawks went 9-7 little did Kennedy know he would only taste one more winning season. In 1991 he made his first of many pro bowl appearances with 73 tackles with 6.5 sacks as the Seahawks went 7-9 and fired Chuck Knox. In 1992 was a strange year for Kennedy as the Seahawks fell apart going 2-14 but individually Kennedy had his best season. During that year Kennedy made the pro-bowl, was named first team all-pro and was named defensive MVP. That year Kennedy recorded 92 tackles, 14 sacks, forcing four fumbles while recovering another fumble. In 1993 and 1994 the Seahawks would go 6-10 as Kennedy was still a monster earning another pro bowl appearance and first team all-pro status for the second and third straight seasons. Kennedy had established himself as not only the best Seahawk but one of the best NFL players in the game.

Growing up as a kid in the 90's the Seahawks were the worst team in Seattle by far. I'd rather watch the Cowboys, Packers or 49ers play in the mid 90's than the Seahawks. When the Seahawks were on playing defense my dad would make me watch saying "Kris watch #96 he is one of the greatest Seahawks ever and will be in the Hall of Fame someday". As I grew older I became a huge fan of Kennedy's as he again made the pro bowl in 1995, 1996, and 1998. In 1999 a new sheriff came to town in Mike Holmgren. Kennedy playing in his second to last season at the age of 31 years old made the pro bowl again in 1999. More importantly Kennedy finally tasted team success as the Seahawks played on Monday Night Football for the first time since 1992 and he sacked Brett Favre three times on the big stage as the Seahawks won 27-7 over the Green Bay Packers. Later that year the Seahawks won the division title meaning Kennedy would finally play in a playoff game. The Seahawks would lose to the Dolphins 20-17. The following year Kennedy finally showed his age as the Seahawks were in a transition year going 6-10. He was released then after the 2001 season finally announced his retirement.

The next move this franchise needs to make is retire the #96 as no Seahawks player should ever be allowed to wear that number. Kennedy is a legend and should be joining Largent and Walter Jones with his jersey in the rafters. Kennedy who played on the Seahawks during our worst era never once complained, never once threatened to leave and still never complains about it. Kennedy is still very much active with the Seahawks having raised the 12th man flag twice already, has been inducted in the ring of honor and was named an honorary captain for the NFC championship game. I wished Kennedy could have played for the Seahawks in the Knox era or Holmgren era so more people could know the greatness of Kennedy. For Kennedy he played in 167 games(missing only nine games in his career) with 153 starts. He recorded 568 solo tackles with 58 sacks. He also had three interceptions, forced 11 fumbles and recovered six of them. His most memorable fumble recovery was against the San Diego Chargers and former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf. He picked up the Leaf fumble and rumbled 39 yards for the touchdown in 1998. Kennedy was a great Seahawks player and on the first home game his jersey should be hung up in the rafters as he is the only second Seahawk player to ever make it to Pro Football's Hall of Fame.

This day has been long overdue for most Seahawks fans and Kennedy. As you saw with Tim Brown, Andre Reed and Chris Carter though better late than never as those greats are still being snubbed. Kennedy was a star on a crappy team but he still played hard. To win defensive MVP as a defensive tackle is impressive as is. To do it on a 2-14 team when nobody is watching your games or caring about your team makes it even more special. Kennedy is the first player I remember growing up watching in this city who is in the Hall of Fame so this is pretty special to me. Kennedy was the reason fans cared about this franchise. Kennedy was the face of this franchise for a decade as they went through their worst stretch. Now Kennedy is finally being rewarded by going to the hall of fame. 2012 is supposedly the year of the 12th man well this year has began quite nicely for the Seahawks. Congrats Cortez Kennedy you deserve this honor!

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