Hall of Famer, Seahawks great Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

The football world has lost one of its greats.

Cortez Kennedy was found dead in Orlando, an Orlando Police Dept. spokeswoman confirmed to NFL.com on Tuesday. He was 48.

Drafted third-overall in the 1990 draft out of the University of Miami, Kennedy was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 after an 11-year career with the Seattle Seahawks in which the defensive tackle racked up 58 sacks, was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and earned five All-Pro selections.

"Cortez Kennedy has been a pillar of the Seahawks franchise since joining the team as a rookie in 1990," the Seahawks said in a statement. "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 relentles 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."

Kennedy was one of the first 300-pound defenders who was as adept at getting to the quarterback as he was stopping the run, recording 14 sacks during the 1992 campaign. He opened the door for future bigger-bodied defenders to be utilized in a number of ways, showing he was nimble enough to keep up with shifty running backs while also being powerful, quick and durable, appearing in 167 of a possible 176 games. At one point in Kennedy's career, he played in 116 straight games and set a club record with 100 consecutive starts.

"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," Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement.

"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."

He's one of nine Seahawks enshrined in the Hall of Fame, was named the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year and is a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team. Kennedy was also inducted into the Seahawks' Ring of Honor as its 10th member in 2006.

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