The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Cortez the Killer

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Imagine if Albert Haynesworth plays at his current unblockable level for another five years, becoming the best defensive tackle of his era. He then retires, waits the necessary five years, sees his name on the list in his first year of eligibility, drops off completely in the second year, and is barely given a second thought after.

Who would he be if that happened? He'd be Cortez Kennedy.

Kennedy, drafted third overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the 1990 draft, put up 48 solo tackles in his rookie season and 73 in his second. But 1992 was his first calling card -- in a year when the Seahawks fielded the NFL's worst offense and went 2-14, Kennedy amassed 14 sacks and four forced fumbles (remember, this is a defensive tackle) and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Joe Nash and Jeff Bryant were decent cohorts on that line, but Kennedy was the focus of every offensive line, and he was almost impossible to stop with double-teams. In a one-on-one? Forget it.

Far from a one-year wonder, Kennedy averaged 6.2 sacks and 54.2 solo tackles from 1991 through 1999. And as is true with any player at his position, it's not just about the stats -- the job of any defensive tackle, as much as his own ability to disrupt an opposing offense, is to soak up blockers so that other defenders can flow through gaps and make plays. Kennedy was named to the Pro Bowl eight times, and named a first-team All-Pro three times, during an era in which the Seahawks were as anonymous a team as they could possibly be.

The problem is that now, people who did not see Kennedy and can only look at the numbers, will not know unless they go back and watch. This was the best player at his position for the better part of a decade, generally a pretty solid qualification for induction, but he was the proverbial tree in the forest that fell when nobody was around. There will be no huge lobby to elect him and reverse the injustice, but there should be.

By Doug Farrar  |  October 30, 2008; 12:25 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Speaking of Seahawks, how about Kenny Easley?

Posted by: Chris | October 31, 2008 12:46 AM

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