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Legendary Seattle Seahawks defensive end and NFL Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy died Tuesday in Orlando, Fla. He was 48.
Orlando Police said it was investigating what led to his death, but said there was nothing suspicious to report.
Kennedy was expected to be in Seattle Thursday night for Rise With Us, a party to benefit the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Heartbroken by this news. We've lost an all-time great Seahawk and a truly extraordinary man. Tez will be forever missed. https://t.co/Uek1YEYTRy— Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) May 23, 2017
Cortez my true "BIG" brother. Our memories will live forever. You will be missed. Much love to your Family #ROOKIECLUB— Chris Warren (@SEA42HAWKS) May 23, 2017
Kennedy played his entire 11-year pro career in Seattle and was one of the most dominant defensive forces in football. He often drew double teams from opposing offensive lines, thereby opening up opportunities for his teammates to make the play.
Kennedy pulled off a rare feat in 1992. In a season in which Seattle went 2-14, Kennedy was named the NFL's Defensive Player of The Year. He recorded a career-high 14 sacks and 92 tackles that season.
He finished his career with 58 sacks. six fumble recoveries, three interceptions and one touchdown.
Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, becoming the second full-time Seahawks player to do so following Steve Largent. His No. 96 jersey was retired by the Seahawks later that season.
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
In 1990 Seahawks draft Cortez Kennedy 3rd overall. Great career, great man. Now gone at 48. RIP Tez. NFL HOF, Seahawk ROH, ARK. BHOF.— Jim Zorn (@JimZorn10) May 23, 2017
Shocked at Cortez Kennedy passing..1 of the most talented players I ever recruited or coached...a fun loving person a sad day..— Jimmy Johnson (@JimmyJohnson) May 23, 2017
Chris Cornell and Cortez Kennedy. This week has to rip your heart out if you grew up in Seattle in the 90s.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) May 23, 2017
RIP Cortez Kennedy, all I remember from your career at Miami was you being a brick wall in cleats pic.twitter.com/eynJEn20VE— 1 SASSY BRUNETTE (@edsbs) May 23, 2017
The Seahawks posted this statement:
Cortez Kennedy has been a pillar of the Seahawks franchise since joining the team in 1990. Tez was the heart and soul of the Seahawks through the 1990s and endeared himself to 12s all across the Pacific Northwest as a player who played with a selfless and relentless approach to the game.
Tez was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Pro Football Hall of Famer and Seahawks ambassador, but more than his on-field accomplishments, he was a loyal son, father, teammate, and friend to many, possessing a larger-than-life personality and an infectious laugh.
We extend our warmest thoughts and prayers to his parents, Ruby and Joe Harris, daughter Courtney, and entire family on the unfortunate loss of a life-long Seahawk. We are proud to have been represented by such a special person.
One of Kennedy's greatest single-game performances came on Sept. 20, 1992. He posted three sacks in a 10-6 win over the New England Patriots.
That win turned out to ultimately be a loss for Seattle. Both teams finished 2-14. The Patriots ended up with the No. 1 pick in the following draft because of the tiebreaker and selected Washington State quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who went on to a long and successful career that included two Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks took Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer with the second overall pick. Mirer regressed after a solid rookie year and lasted only four seasons in Seattle.
Paul Silvi and Chris Egan remembered Cortez Kennedy during a conversation on Facebook Live. Share your memories in the comments section.