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Cortez: Countdown to Canton with Dave Wyman
The Seahawks’ selection of Cortez Kennedy in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft prompted Chuck Knox to switch to a four-man defensive line, after the team had deployed a 3-4 alignment during his first seven seasons as coach.
Kennedy stepped in at right tackle, and Dave Wyman moved in at middle linebacker after playing inside ’backer in the 3-4 during his first three seasons. Things never were the same, for the defense or either player.
“Playing behind Tez was just amazing,” said Wyman, now a radio analyst. “I feel like if I could have played behind him my whole career maybe I could have been a Pro Bowler at least.”
Wyman never made it to the Pro Bowl, while Kennedy went eight times. But the defense ranked among the Top 10 in the league for three consecutive seasons (1990-92) – the only time in franchise history it has happened in back-to-back seasons; and three of the six times it has happened, period.
Kennedy, meanwhile, was voted NFL defensive player of the year in 1992 and selected to the league’s All-Decade team for the 1990s.
The man most people call Tez will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 4. To commemorate his latest – and greatest – achievement, Seahawks.com is asking those who played with him and knew him for their thoughts on Kennedy. Today, it’s Wyman.
The connection: Any middle linebacker worth his tackle totals will tell you that a disruptive and dominating defensive tackle is his best friend on the field. Kennedy was both, and Wyman will tell you just that.
“I always say, Tez would wipe out two or three gaps,” Wyman said. “So a lot of the big solo tackles I got and some of the best hits I had in my career were because Tez would wipe out an entire side of the line. He was that good, and just an amazing force.”
Wyman, a second-round draft choice in 1987, also did OK without Kennedy paving the way. Wyman had 97 tackles in 1988 and 98 in 1989, finishing second on the team both seasons. But his job seemed to get a little easier after Kennedy arrived.
“The only thing that held me back was there were times where I just stopped and watched him,” Wyman said with a smile. “I mean, I’m joking. But Tez was just amazing.”
The congratulations: “If you ask football people and people that have been looking at film – especially during that era – they would wonder why wasn’t Tez in the Hall of Fame before this,” Wyman said. “I knew eventually people would come around. Sometimes, and it’s too bad, but you have to be there to see it. He was just an amazing player.”
In closing: “If you looked at his body in the locker room, you would never think that he was the kind of guy who just had an uncanny force,” Wyman said, shaking his head. “But he just would move people.”