The Saints are wearing a large “96” decal on the side of their helmet during offseason workouts, in honor of the late Cortez Kennedy. The Seahawks will do something more permanent, albeit less conspicuous.
The Seahawks have announced that Kennedy’s jersey number will be worn in a decal at the back of the players’ helmets throughout the 2017 season.
“He meant a lot to this franchise,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said, via Seahawks.com. “Just being around him, he always tried to give young guys some knowledge that he had learned in the game, some wisdom. He went through a 2-14 season and was able to get Defensive Player of the Year; he was a great player, but more importantly, he was just an awesome person off the field. Great guy to be around, funny, and everybody that he met, he touched in some form or fashion. So we’re definitely going to miss him. . . . It’s an honor to wear his number on our helmets.”
Kennedy knew tributes well. During the season in which the Seahawks won only two games but Kennedy managed to win distinction as the best defensive player in the league, Kennedy wore No. 99 in honor of the late Jerome Brown. Kennedy and Brown played college football at the University of Miami; Brown left Miami before Kennedy arrived, but Brown was Kennedy’s “idol,” and the men were former roommates.
“I’ve seen him almost every game I’ve ever played, especially at home in New Orleans and at home here,” said tight end Jimmy Graham, who also played at Miami. “I was pretty close with him. It’s very sad. He was such a bubbly guy, so nice, and every time I saw him, we’d talk about the ‘U’, what they’re doing, how well they’re doing. When I first got out here to Seattle, he was one of the first guys to talk to me about this team, how it operated, how his time was here, how the city was. He always had an open door and open arms to me. It’ll be weird to not be around him and not hear that laugh again. Every one of my Seahawks games, I gave him a big hug before the game. He was always telling me, ‘Do it for the “U”.’ He had a lot of ‘U’ pride.
“If you want to talk about somebody who was every bit as great of a man off the field as he was a player on it, it was him. Everybody loved him. He just had a pure smile, it was just a pure joy to even share a little piece of him and what he brought to this city, to New Orleans and to the ‘U’.”
Kennedy died last month at 48. He made it to the Hall of Fame in 2012.