CANTON, Ohio – They arrived in the 1990 NFL Draft from various corners of the college football landscape, but the bond between Cortez Kennedy, Robert Blackmon, Terry Wooden and Chris Warren was almost as instant as it has been lasting.
They dubbed themselves “The Rookie Club,” and they are having a reunion here this weekend because Kennedy is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tonight – with the nationally televised event from Fawcett Stadium set to kickoff at 4 p.m., PDT.
Kennedy was the third pick overall in that fateful draft out of the University of Miami. He was voted to eight Pro Bowls during his 11-season career with the Seahawks, named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and also selected to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s.
The second round delivered Blackmon, the strongest of strong safeties from Baylor who would lead the team in interceptions in 1995 and start 96 games in seven seasons; and Wooden, a do-it-all linebacker from Syracuse who would lead the team in tackles in 1995 and start 87 games in seven seasons. Warren, a steal of a fourth-round pick out of Ferrum, led the team in punt and kickoff returns for three seasons before becoming a 1,000-yard rusher from 1992-95. He also was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
These cornerstone players are here to show their support for Kennedy because, well, that’s what “The Rookie Club” has always been about – taking care of, and looking out for, one another.
“Cortez is deserving of it,” Wooden, who now scouts for the Saints, said Friday night as he was leaving the event where Kennedy was presented his gold Hall of Fame jacket. “I got emotional when he finally made it to the Hall, because he was a good player but he’s an even better person.
“America really never got to see Cortez Kennedy, because he played in the 90s before you had Direct TV and the national coverage that the Seahawks get now. I think America missed out on seeing a pretty dominant player. Tez would have made it earlier if more people had actually seen him play.
“If they had, it would have been a no-brainer.”