Seahawks icon and Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

Hall of Famer Kennedy dead at 48 (2:21)

The NFL Live crew reflects on the death of former Seahawks defensive tackle and Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy at 48. (2:21)

Cortez Kennedy, an icon with the Seattle Seahawks who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, has died at age 48, the Orlando (Florida) Police Department said Tuesday.

Orlando police confirmed to ESPN that they are investigating the former defensive tackle's death but said "there is nothing suspicious to report" at this time.

Kennedy died alone, according to police.

Kennedy was a force inside, both as a run-stopper and in threatening quarterbacks. The 1992 Defensive Player of the Year made eight Pro Bowls, had 58 sacks -- an unusually high total for a tackle -- and spent his entire 11-season career with Seattle, starting 153 out of 167 games.

Named to the Associated Press 1990s All-Decade team, Kennedy was credited with 448 tackles, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and three interceptions during his NFL career.

"Tez was the heart and soul of the Seahawks through the 1990s and endeared himself to [fans] all across the Pacific Northwest as a player who played with a selfless and relentless approach to the game," the team said in a statement.

"Tez was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Seahawks ambassador, but more than his on-field accomplishments, he was a loyal son, father, teammate and friend to many, possessing a larger-than-life personality and an infectious laugh. ... We are proud to have been represented by such a special person."

Kennedy retired in 2000, was named to the Seahawks Ring of Honor and had his No. 96 retired by the team.

"Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field," Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO David Baker said in a statement. "He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans."

The third overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft was an All-American at the University of Miami and was on the Hurricanes' 1989 national championship team. Kennedy also was inducted into the Miami Hurricanes Ring of Honor and the university's Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Johnson, who coached Kennedy at Miami, said he was "shocked" by Kennedy's death.

Kennedy's personality was evident nearly 30 years ago when Dennis Erickson, who succeeded Johnson at Miami, first met Kennedy. Erickson saw it again in 1995 when he became the head coach of the Seahawks, and Kennedy was his star player.

"He always had a smile on his face. There was no arrogance about him at all. Not at all," Erickson said. "He wouldn't think he was as good as he was. ... He was just a great young man. He was one of the closest guys I've been around in coaching. I was close with his family and he was close with my family and we kept in touch all these years. It's hard to describe him. They don't make them like him anymore."

Even though he last played for the Seahawks in 2000, he remained a significant part of the organization. He was a mainstay around the team during training camp and would occasionally roll through the locker room during the regular season grabbing a few minutes with anyone -- players, coaches, media -- up for a chat.

Seahawks players past and present expressed their condolences on social media.

Kennedy also spent the past several years as an informal consultant with the New Orleans Saints because of his close relationship with general manager Mickey Loomis, dating back to their days together with the Seahawks. Kennedy was the godfather to one of Loomis' daughters and one of the GM's sons has Cortez as a middle name.

"Many who will read about him in the coming days will read of his success on the field as a great Seattle Seahawk and Miami Hurricane; however the full story lies in his loving, fun, positive and giving heart," Loomis said in a statement. "In my many years working in the NFL, no one better exemplified what it meant to be a great player on the field, and yet that paled in comparison to what Cortez meant to the people who knew him off the field.

"People of all races, religions and nationalities counted him as a friend; athletes and non-athletes alike. We should all aspire to have as big a heart as his!"

"Words cannot express the sense of loss and heartbreak we as an organization are feeling at this time," Saints owner Tom and Gayle Benson said in a statement. "Cortez was a man who was truly a role model and inspiration in every sense, he was considered a part of our family, and we will miss the happiness, joy and insight he brought us each and every time we were fortunate enough to spend time with him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.