BY SPNW Staff 05:00PM 02/04/2012

Seahawks’ Kennedy makes NFL Hall on 4th try

Defensive tackle extraordinaire (1990-00, Tez was of three NFL players to be named Defensive Player of the Year on a losing team, joining Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor.

Cortez Kennedy, who played for the Seahawks from 1990-00, made the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday as part of a six-man class. He is seen here sacking Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre. / Seattle Seahawks photo

It took Cortez Kennedy four agonizing attempts, but he has finally made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kennedy, who failed to receive sufficient support in three previous appearances (2009-11) on the final ballot, will enter the Hall in Canton, OH., in August as part of the Class of 2012. He was elected Saturday.

Famously known as “Tez,” Kennedy becomes just the second long-tenured Seahawk — Kennedy spent his entire 11-year career in Seattle — to reach the HOF, and the first since wide receiver Steve Largent was elected in his first year of eligibility in 1995.

Cortez Kennedy

The 2012 class, voted upon by a panel of 44 media members, is nearly as notable for who wasn’t elected as for who was. DB Jack Butler (1951-59), C Dermontti Dawson (1986-00) DE Chris Doleman (1985-99), RB Curtis Martin (1995-05) and OT Willie Roaf (1993-06) were all selected for enshrinement along with Kennedy.

Missing the cut: former head coach and two-time Super Bowl winner Bill Parcells, RB Jerome Bettis (1993-05), WR Cris Carter (1987-02), WR Andre Reed (1985-00) and DE/OLB Charles Haley (1986-99). Parcells and Bettis were considered locks to make it. Kennedy was regarded as a longshot.

Kennedy, whose eight Pro Bowl appearances included four as a starter, made first-team All-Pro three times (1992, 1993, 1994) and second team twice (1991, 1996). He ranks sixth on the club’s all-time lists in games played (167) and games started (153), eighth in tackles (668), fourth in sacks (58) and forced fumbles (13).

A force inside as a run stopper and in threatening quarterbacks, Kennedy’s sack total is unusually high for a defensive tackle. Kennedy also intercepted three passes and scored one touchdown on a fumble recovery, a 39-yard return against San Diego Dec. 13, 1998, in a 38-17 Seattle victory.

Kennedy’s best year was 1992 when he became the second player in franchise history named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year (following SS Kenny Easley in 1984) after recording 93 tackles and 14 sacks. Only Kennedy, Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor won the award while playing on losing teams.

Kennedy also recorded one of his finest seasons in 1999. Then a 10-yearr veteran, he started all 16 games, recorded 73 tackles, 6.5 sacks and intercepted two passes to help the Seahawks reach the playoffs for the first time since 1988.

The Seahawks made Kennedy, of the University of Miami, their first-round choice (3rd player overall) in the 1990 draft. The durable Kennedy played in 167 of possible 176 games, including a streak of 116, as well as a record 100 consecutive starts. Kennedy didn’t miss a game until his eighth season.

Kennedy, born Aug. 23, 1968, in Osceola, AR., became the 10th member of Seattle’s Ring of Honor Sept. 17, 2006.

Since Kennedy, eligible for induction for seven years, first became a finalist in 2009, three defensive ends/tackles were elected, Bruce Smith (1985-03) in 2009, John Randle (1990-03) in 2010 and Richard Dent (1983-97) in 2011.

Smith made it into the HOF in his first year of eligibility, Randle in his second and Dent in his seventh. Randle spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, but finished it (2001-03) with the Seahawks, who had associations with four other Hall of Famers.

DE Carl Eller (elected 2004) played in 16 games for the Seahawks in 1979, RB Franco Harris (1990) in eight in 1984, QB Warren Moon (2006) in 25 in 1997-98 and WR Jerry Rice (2010) in nine in 2004.

“I played with Cortez Kennedy for a couple of years in Seattle, and the way he dominated the game at the nose tackle spot, having 14 sacks in a season from that position, and three interceptions, the guy is just an all-around great football player,” said Moon. “He’s very deserving.”

Kennedy was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, along with Randle, Bryant Young and Warren Sapp.

Since sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982, only Kennedy and former Dallas great Randy White ended their careers with at least 150 starts, 50 sacks and eight Pro Bowl appearances. White entered the Hall of Fame in 1994.

Hall of Famers With Washington Connections

Nine individuals with ties to the state have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mel Hein, who starred at Washington State, was a member of the inaugural Canton class in 1963.

Year Inductee Position School Skinny
1963 Mel Hein C WSU Selected the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1938 — as a center
1969 Glen Edwards OT WSU Selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1930s
1970 Hugh McElhenny RB UW The six-time Pro Bowl star also enshrined in College Hall of Fame
1974 Tony Canadeo QB/RB Gonzaga “Gray Ghost” made the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1940s
1976 Ray Flaherty Coach Gonzaga Posted an 80-37-5 record as an NFL head coach
1981 Red Badgro DE/WR USC Orillia native elected to the Hall at age 78 (oldest-ever inductee)
1984 Arnie Weinmeister DL UW Played for New York Yankees (1948-49), New York Giants (1950-53)
1995 Steve Largent WR Tulsa Seahawks’ first superstar inducted in first year of eligibility
2006 Warren Moon QB UW Made 9 Pro Bowls during tenures with Oilers, Vikings and Seahawks
2012 Cortez Kennedy DT Miami Made 8 Pro Bowls during 11-year career with Seahawks


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