Kenny Easley finally gets closure with Hall of Fame induction

During a 15-year period from 1987 to 2002, Kenny Easley did not watch the Seattle Seahawks play or have any contact with the organization.

He felt that the team had been dishonest with him in matters concerning the kidney ailment that ended his career after seven seasons.

But on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, Easley finally got some closure as he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Mr. Paul Allen, the terrific owner of the Seattle Seahawks, thank you, sir, for reaching out to Kenny Easley in 2002 after a 15-year isolation from the organization," he said during his speech. "I believe in the old adage that water runs downhill, and thus winning starts at the top. You have run a great organization with a terrific head coach in Pete Carroll.

"How about the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl in 2018?"

Easley totaled 32 interceptions from 1981 to 1987 and was one of the finest defensive players in the league, making the Pro Bowl five times and earning first-team All-Pro honors on three occasions.

He earned "The Enforcer" nickname long before Kam Chancellor was in the NFL. And Easley has a fan in the current Seahawks strong safety.

"Just for a guy that played at the level he played at, the ferocious hits he had, the aggression he played with and just being from the 757, being from the area where I'm from is very big," Chancellor said earlier this week.

There was never a question about whether Easley produced at a Hall of Fame level. But he had to wait for induction because his career didn't last as long as many of his peers.

"This Hall of Fame induction is like fire that's been welled up in my bones," Easley said.

As he spoke, fellow Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott looked on. Easley played at UCLA while Lott starred at USC. In the NFL, while Easley was making plays for the Seahawks, Lott was doing the same for the San Francisco 49ers.

Over the years, Lott has been one of Easley's biggest public supporters, pushing for him to make the Hall of Fame. Easley took time Saturday to settle the debate over which player was better.

"In the last 30 years, there has been no better thumper, ball-hawking, fiercely competitive or smarter defensive back in the NFL than Ronnie Lott," Easley said. "He was the best. There, it's settled. Because I said so."

Easley will be honored by the Seahawks on Oct. 1 when the team hosts the Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field.

He concluded his speech with a nod toward athletes using their platforms to promote social activism.

"Black lives do matter," Easley said. "And all lives matter, too. But the carnage affecting young black men today from random violence to police shootings across this nation has to stop. We've got to stand up as a country, as black Americans, and fight the good fight to protect our youth and our American constitutional right not to die while driving or walking the streets black in America. It has to stop. And we can do it."