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'I'm still dancing with it'

Posted Feb 7, 2011

Rather than be disappointed over missing out on the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the second consecutive year, former defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy is embracing – and enjoying – the process.

Disappointed? Dejected? Despondent?

No. Hardly. And, definitely not. Rather than feel sorry for himself because he “failed” to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during Saturday’s 7½-hour selection process in Dallas, Cortez Kennedy is embracing making the Final 10 for the second consecutive year.

“I’m feeling OK,” Kennedy said Monday from his home near Orlando, Fla. “I’m feeling good. I’m fine with it.”

An eight-time Pro Bowl selection during his 11-season career as a dominating defensive tackle with the Seahawks, Kennedy also was voted NFL defensive player of the year in 1992 – on a 2-14 team – and selected to the NFL Team of the Decade for 1990s. He already has been inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor and should become the third player in franchise history to have his number retired when he finally enters the Hall of Fame.

Saturday, Kennedy made the cut when the 15 finalists for the Class of 2011 were trimmed to 10. But when that group was reduced to five, he was eliminated along with wide receivers Andre Reed and Tim Brown, tackle Willie Roaf and center Dermontti Dawson. This year’s class was comprised of the five remaining modern-era candidates – running back Marshall Faulk, defensive back Deion Sanders, defensive end Richard Dent, tight end Shannon Sharpe and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol; along with linebackers Les Richter and Chris Hanburger, the senior committee nominees.

“When you’ve got so many great candidates, how can you choose?” Kennedy said. “Just to make the Final 10, that’s a heckuva honor in itself. And I’ve had that honor the past two years.”

Rather than venture to Dallas, Kennedy spent a relatively quiet weekend at home. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t in almost constant contact with friends and reporters who were following his fate – including former NFL offensive linemen Richmond Webb and Steve Wisniewski.

“I think those guys should be Hall of Fame players, too, and they’re not in there,” Kennedy said. “So, like I told them, ‘I don’t have anything to put my head down about.’ Just making the Final 15 and the Final 10, that’s an honor in itself.

“I think my friends were more nervous about this than I was.”

The nerves can be put on hold for another year, until Kennedy is back to test the latest group of first-year eligible candidates – which in 2012 will include coaches Bill Cowher, Bill Parcells and Marty Schottenheimer, as well as ex-Washington State quarterback Drew Bledsoe and former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields. In addition, that is, to the others who made this year’s cut to the Final 10.

“It’s such an elite group,” Kennedy said. “Dermontti Dawson, he’s a Hall of Fame player. Andre Reed, Tim Brown and all those guys, they are too.

“You just have to wait your turn. So I’m not upset at all.”

In part because he’s too busy raising his 15-year-old daughter, Courtney, and living the good life that comes from being financially secure – thanks to his late agent, Robert Fraley.

“How can I sit here and tell you I got ‘snubbed,’ or anything like that?” said Kennedy, now 42. “I’m not upset at all.”

Kennedy then broke into one of those rumbling laughs of his before adding, “If nothing else, I got a couple nice articles written about me last week.

“I’m just honored, and I’m still dancing with it. The whole thing just put a smile on my face.”