Today is the 20th anniversary of Jerome Brown’s death.
It’s relevant – and also a bit ironic – because of the relationship Brown had with former Seahawks defensive end Cortez Kennedy, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 4. During the greatest season of Kennedy’s career – 1992 – he switched from No. 96 to No. 99 to honor his friend, who was killed in an auto accident in June of that year.
“I had to change to 99 because I know he’d want it,” Kennedy said at the time. “And I’ll have to play well because I also know he doesn’t want me to embarrass him.”
Play well? Kennedy turned in what might be the best season in NFL history by a defensive tackle. He collected 14 sacks and 90 tackles in being named NFL Defensive Player of Year – on a 2-14 team.
“Jerome was more than a good friend of mine. Jerome was like the older brother I never had,” Kennedy said. “I loved Jerome. Everybody loved Jerome.”
The ’92 season also included a game at the Kingdome against the Eagles, Brown’s old team. Kennedy had seven tackles, two sacks and tipped two passes in the Seahawks’ three-point loss in overtime.
“I’ll miss the number (96, which he also wore at the University of Miami), but not as much as I’ll miss Jerome,” Kennedy said before the season. “I’d rather wear 99 for him and both of us.”