One of the first things John Randle did last year after being selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was reach out to Cortez Kennedy.
“I texted Cortez almost immediately and said, ‘You’re next,’ ” Randle offered during a conversation with Seahawks.com after making the Class of 2010. “And I definitely want to be there when he’s inducted because he really deserves it. I look forward to seeing him get in.”
Kennedy’s next opportunity to “get in” comes Saturday, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee meets in Dallas to choose the Class of 2011. The eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Seahawks is a finalist for the third consecutive year. Randle, a sack-producing defensive lineman who played the final two seasons of his career with the Seahawks, was among the players who got in last year – when Kennedy made the final 10 before being denied in the voting.
I was reminded of the interview with Randle this week while exchanging emails with ESPN.com blogger Mike Sando, who will make Tez’s presentation to the selection committee on Saturday. Sando and I came to the same conclusion: If those who played with and against Kennedy were doing the voting, he’d already be in the Hall.
The respect his peers had – and still have – for Kennedy is boggling.
As former Oakland Raiders guard Steve Wisniewski told Sando, “Cortez was the most dominant interior lineman that we ever faced and certainly the very best against the run.”
This from a fellow eight-time Pro Bowl selection, and also a player Kennedy always listed among the best blockers he ever faced.
Kennedy’s problem this year remains the same as it was in his first two years as a finalist. There are two players in their first year of eligibility that are considered slam dunks – running back Marshall Faulk and defensive back Deion Sanders. Wide receiver Tim Brown also is expected to generate a lot of support and there is sentiment among the 44 members of the selection committee that tight end Shannon Sharpe and wide receiver Cris Carter are overdue for inclusion in the Hall. That’s five, and only four to seven from this year’s field will get in. The full list of finalists is available here.
This morning, Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checked in with – and weighed in on – Kennedy, offering, “But whether he is announced as an inductee Saturday or in some subsequent year, he is deserving of inclusion if only for the uncompromising excellence with which he played when so few were watching and so little was at stake.”
Kennedy was a great player on some bad teams – as evidenced by his selection as NFL defensive player of the year during the Seahawks’ 2-14 season in 1992; and the fact that the Seahawks played on “Monday Night Football” four times during his 11-season career.
“Here’s the way I put it: At least I’m dancin’ with it,” Kennedy told Boling, referring to being a finalist for the third consecutive year. “I feel like it’s such a great honor to be associated with those guys.”
It’s time for Kennedy to join the big dance and be associated with those other guys – the ones who already are in the Hall, and feel Kennedy should be, too.