Cortez Kennedy passed away at the age of 48 on Tuesday. The Hall of Famer was a Seattle Seahawks legend, one who gave one of the best speeches we've ever seen in Canton.
Kennedy's father used to make him cut the grass at 5 a.m., part of a lesson in "doing it right." His mom made young Cortez quit football his sophomore season because of his grades. They went to the state championship. She sent him a postcard that said "Wish you were here."
The former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle opened his Hall of Fame induction speech with those two anecdotes, origin stories fitting for one of the game's most dominant defensive linemen who stood out out for a struggling team. Kennedy deftly and sincerely turned those lessons in humility and hard work into one of the more entertaining speeches Canton audiences have seen in a long time.
Seattle had two winning seasons during Kennedy's 11-year career there. In 1992, he was named the Defensive MVP after recording 14 sacks and 92 tackles ... on a team that went 2-14. Kennedy spent his entire career in Seattle, a situation that would have a number of players would be begging for a bus ticket out of town. It was just another lesson in dedication for Kennedy.
Lighthearted and funny, Kennedy filled his speech with even more stories from his playing days, ranging from his junior college coach begging the one-time pizza delivery boy to eat as many pizzas as he could in order to bulk up, to changing his playing number in honor of Jerome Brown. The anecdotes belied the sincerity of man who was truly grateful for everything and everyone in his life.
Kennedy is only the second player from the Seahawks to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He made the Pro Bowl eight times during his 11 seasons there.
Kennedy finished his career with 58 sacks and 668 total tackles. He even scored a touchdown in 1998.
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