Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy, a star defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks for 11 seasons, died at his home in Orlando, Florida, at the age of 48. The Orlando Police Department confirmed Kennedy's death after TMZ Sports first reported the news. The cause of death is unknown, and police said Kennedy died alone.
Kennedy, the third overall pick of the Seahawks in the 1990 NFL Draft, racked up six Pro Bowl nods and was a first-team All-Pro in three straight seasons, from 1992-94, in his stellar 11-year career. He started 153 out of 167 games and was named Defensive Player of the Year after the 1992 season.
Kennedy shined for middling Seahawks teams, however, playing in just one playoff game, following the 1999 season, after the arrival of Mike Holmgren. The Super Bowl-winning former Packers coach replaced Dennis Erickson, who had also coached Kennedy at the University of Miami. Kennedy finished his NFL career with 58 sacks and 568 tackles in 167 games. He was also an All-America honoree at Miami and was on the Hurricanes' 1989 national championship team, led by Erickson.
David Baker, the president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said Kennedy was a Hall of Famer on the field and off it, in a prepared statement.
"The entire Hall of Fame family is stunned and deeply saddened to learn the news of Cortez Kennedy's passing. On behalf of the Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, Cortez's fellow Hall of Famers, and our staff, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and fans.
Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field. He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans.
Although he left this earth far too soon, the Hall of Fame pledges to keep his legacy alive forever in Canton."
NFL players, coaches and writers paid tribute to Kennedy on Twitter.
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
In 1990 Seahawks draft Cortez Kennedy 3rd overall. Great career, great man. Now gone at 48. RIP Tez. NFL HOF, Seahawk ROH, ARK. BHOF.â Jim Zorn (@JimZorn10) May 23, 2017
My heart goes out to Cortez Kennedy and his family #RIPâ jerryrice (@JerryRice) May 23, 2017
Hall of Fame DT Cortez Kennedy has passed away at age 48. pic.twitter.com/9LL6EDirQeâ NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 23, 2017
R.I.P Cortez Kennedy... Gone way too early. Thanks for always sharing knowledge to a young buck like me... #TheUâ Reggie Wayne (@ReggieWayne_17) May 23, 2017
-Pro Bowl 8xâ Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) May 23, 2017
-All Pro 5x
-NFL DPOY 1x
-Ring of Honor 2x (Miami, Seahawks)
-HOF 3x (Pro Football, Miami, Arkansas)
All-around great guy https://t.co/18QJJFLQba
Covered Cortez Kennedy. The smile, man, the smile. #Seahawksâ Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonNFL) May 23, 2017
Please keep Cortez Kennedy's family in your prayers. He was a great man. One of my best friends. Rest in Heaven. #prayersâ Richmond Webb (@RichmondWebb) May 23, 2017