BELLEVUE — It would be a bit too literal to say that Cortez Kennedy has spent the past three years waiting by the phone.
But not by much.
The former Seattle Seahawks’ great and media-shy star hasn’t been one to hide how important it was for him to get a Hall of Fame phone call.
And if it never came?
“You know something? We don’t have to talk about that anymore,” Kennedy said Wednesday afternoon, beaming and raising his arms in the air. “I’m a Hall of Famer now. I’m a Hall of Fame enshrinee. We don’t ever have to talk about that anymore — it’s done, it’s over with, forget it. I don’t want to hear it no more.”
Rarely the kind to put himself in the spotlight, Kennedy isn’t usually the type to gloat. But during a stopover in Seattle on Wednesday, he was certainly in a celebratory mood.
The 43-year-old former defensive tackle flew into Seattle from his home in the Deep South to visit with some friends and express gratitude to those who were there for his journey to Canton, Ohio, where he will be in August to be one of six men enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kennedy will become the first Hall of Famer, in any of the major team sports, to be drafted by a Seattle team and spend his entire career there.
“I’m always a Seattle guy,” he said Wednesday, four days after his name was announced among the members of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. “I love Seattle, and I love the fans. And that will never change.”
As he has done before each of the previous two Hall of Fame announcements, Kennedy was eagerly awaiting the call Saturday. It never came; he had to learn of his Hall inclusion along with everybody else — via television.
He then attended the Super Bowl as an invited guest, and the calls haven’t stopped coming.
“I’ve never had so many phone calls. I’ve never had so many text messages,” he said, naming two U.S. senators and former NFL stars like John Randle, Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk among those who have reached out to offer congratulations. “I’m very humbled for getting into the Hall of Fame. It means a lot. I’ve always said that it means a lot to the Seahawks organization and to the Seahawks fans. That’s what it’s all about.”
Kennedy plans on being presented at the Hall of Fame ceremony by Dixie Fraley Keller, the widow of his longtime friend and agent Robert Fraley. He joked about making his own speech a short one, and he’s not planning on stressing himself out over its content.
These days, he only has one concern: he’s on his way to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s hit me that I’m a Hall of Famer,” he said, “but I still can’t believe it.”