Updated Mar 8, 2011 - 10:00 am
Time for "Tez" in the Hall
KIRO Radio-710 ESPN Seattle
Those of us west of the Hudson River know what a tremendous football player Cortez Kennedy was for the Seattle Seahawks. Now, can we convince the rest of the country he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The answer to that question comes Saturday with a vote on the class of 2011.
Kennedy was the most dominating defensive tackle from 1990 to 2000. Eight times he made the AFC Pro Bowl roster. He was the league's most valuable defensive player in 1992 when the Seahawks had just two wins.
Seattle teammate Dave Wyman loved playing linebacker behind "Tez." "He was just an unstoppable force. It was weird, when you looked at Tez's physique. He wasn't incredibly strong in the weight room, or explosive, but he made his way wherever he needed to go. He just went right through people," Wyman says.
And when Kennedy did his job, other defensive players flourished.
ESPN football gurus John Clayton and Mike Sando will try to make the case for Kennedy before the Hall of Fame selection committee in Dallas. Clayton told me more national writers are appreciating what Kennedy accomplished.
"This is a process," says Clayton, "And what it comes down to is you have 15 finalists, and usually 13, if not all 15, are deserving."
Some of the other finalists are bigger NFL names; Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Richard Dent, Jerome Bettis, Chris Carter, Tim Brown, and Shannon Sharp to name a few. What hurts Kennedy's chances are his lack of national television exposure, and playing on losing football teams. During his 11 seasons, the Seahawks made it to the playoffs just once in 1999.
Five years ago, Warren Moon got the gleeful news he had been voted into the Hall of Fame. Moon was getting ready for the Seahawks radio broadcast at the Superbowl in Detroit. At the same time, he was preparing himself for the outcome of the selection committee vote.
"I was on pins and needles, and people were calling me every minute wondering whether I had heard anything, yea or nay. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, believe me," Moon says.
Moon was both an opponent and Seahawks teammate of Kennedy. "Tez was a practical joker in the locker room," says Moon, "and he had a lot of help from other players and the equipment, and training people. Everybody on the team loved Cortez. When he came into the room, his smile just made everyone relax."
"When you faced Tez," adds Moon, "and you tried to run the football in the middle of the field, he was the guy who just wouldn't let you do it. Nobody could block him one on one. And he could run from sideline to sideline, which made him unique for a guy over 320 pounds."
Last year, Moon's Minnesota teammate John Randle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Moon would be very happy to welcome Cortez Kennedy to the elite club this weekend.
Adds Moon, "If it doesn't happen this year, it eventually will. He deserves it."
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Those of us west of the Hudson River know what a tremendous football player Cortez Kennedy was for the Seattle Seahawks.