SEATTLE, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Cortez Kennedy, once one of the most feared defensive tackles in the National Football League and likely headed for the Hall of Fame, announced his retirement Saturday night after an 11-year pro career.
Kennedy, who played his entire pro career with the Seahawks, did not play in 2001. He was waived by Seattle in March of that year when his contract demands were not met. He had asked Coach Mike Holmgrem for that release and it was granted.
He made an official retirement statement just before Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage at Seahawks Stadium after being unable to catch on with another team.
"Tez," as he was called, was an eight-time All-Pro choice, a club record, and went to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1991-96. He is still the Seahawks' all-time leader in Pro Bowl appearances, and was also selected to the NFL's All-Decade team of the 1990s.
In 1992, he was voted as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, despite playing for a team that went 2-14. He said being allowed to end his career with Seattle was special.
"It's been twelve years since I joined the Seahawks back in 1990," Kennedy told the crowd. "Back then, I was a shy defensive tackle from Miami. With the help of my family, friends, teammates, and coaches and the people of the great northwest, I departed a man deeply blessed. I am also grateful that I was able to retire after playing my entire career with the Seahawks. Think about it. Steve Largent was the only one that retired as a Seahawk."
Kennedy also acknowledged many people who made an impact on him.
"First and foremost, Joe and Ruby Harris, my parents. My mom is my inspiration, to this day. She taught me everything. All the benefits of hard work, and the consequences of doing my best. And to my daughter Courtney, who is the love of my life. To my head coaches: Chuck Knox, who drafted me. Tom Flores, Dennis Erickson, my college coach, and Mike Holmgren, for taking me to my first playoffs. To Tommy Brazier, my D-line coach, my Arkansas home boy. I would have liked to have gone to the Super Bowl, but I don't like to look back and look at the negatives. When I did my last interview, I kind of figured it was over. I could have still played a couple more years, but when it's time to give it up, it's time to walk away."
Kennedy was wooed by several teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, but decided on retirement after saying he had decided that he was mentally not ready to play. The Seahawks drafted him with the third overall pick in the 1990 draft. They dealt two high first-round choices to the New England Patriots for his services.
He played in 167 games with Seattle and recorded 58 sacks.