Football HOF Profile: Cortez Kennedy

There are many stories of those drafted in the lower rounds making their impact against all odds but there are also plenty of stories at the top of the draft. Being drafted in the first round is always a challenge as teams put a lot of faith into your abilities. Most of these players are considered the best of the best in college and are expected to make an immediate impact in the NFL. With teams using their top draft pick on these players the pressure is great as they are asked to be the future building blocks of the team. For some this pressure is welcomed as they thrive with all eyes on them and become key players. Then there are the others who do not play well under that pressure. For some the pressure of being the future of the team is too great as they go into the NFL and cannot perform. These players can have a number of problems when they enter the NFL as they deal with a new league. Some may see that the NFL is light years away from the NCAA as the speed and strength of players in the NFL is so much greater than the NCAA. For others it is the fact that they are now the main show in a league of only 32 teams aside from the show in their small college town. This can lead to issues as the player now can get anything he wants at any time in a big city causing off the field issues. Every year a new set of players enters the NFL with different levels of pressure as you never know where the hall of famers will lie. In 1990 one hall of famer was in the very start of the draft as Cortez Kennedy was drafted 3rd overall. Kennedy is one of those players who dealt with the pressure to become one of the best players. For Seattle, who drafted him, the decision was a great one as Kennedy proved that you can build a team through the draft. Kennedy had a lot of pressure on him going 3rd overall as he was the future to the Seattle defence and from the start he acted this way. Kennedy was a picture of consistency playing every game for 7 years as he showed that his 3rd overall ranking in the draft was warranted. Kennedy represents those players who handle the pressure of the high draft pick to become great players as he goes into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

After being drafted 3rd overall in 1990 Cortez Kennedy became a constant force on the defensive line. Kennedy did not start at defensive tackle in his rookie season but he did play in all 16 games. He did not make an immediate impact though only earning 1 sack with this limited time in the defensive tackle. For some it may have been a sign that Kennedy was a wasted draft pick but he would look to prove them wrong in the coming years. In his second year Kennedy was given the starting role at defensive tackle and proved that he was worth his 3rd overall draft pick. Earning 6.5 sacks in his second year Cortez Kennedy put everyone on notice that his career was only getting started as he earned his first Pro Bowl berth. Then in 1992 he had his best season yet earning 14 sacks and becoming the defensive player of the year. The only downside to his rise was that he could not help his team to win as they went 2-14 despite Kennedy’s great year. Throughout his career he remained on one of the worst teams in the NFL but that didn’t stop him from being their most consistent performer. He regularly ranked among the top in the team in tackles and always played the entire season. It wasn’t until his 8th season when injuries began to set in forcing him to play in only half of their games. He did not let the bad season stop him though as he had a great year in 2000 as a 10-year veteran when he had 6.5 sacks and 2 interceptions helping to guide the Seahawks to the playoffs for the first time since 1988. Kennedy was a consistent player on a bad team but still managed to prove his worth as a top draft pick and will finish his long journey in Canton.


Cortez Kennedy, DT (1990-2000)

6’3” 306 lbs

Seattle Seahawks

167 G

668 tkl

58.0 sck


– Named to the NFL All-Decade Team (1990s)

– 8-time Pro Bowl Selection

– 3-time First Team All-Pro Selection

– 1992 Defensive Player of the Year

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