According to NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin, Pete Carroll mentioned while speaking at the funeral for Seattle Seahawks Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy in Memphis Thursday that the Seahawks are planning on wearing the number 96 “all year” to honor the departed defensive line great.
While this development is probably no surprise, it’s the first indication of the team’s plans to adjust its uniforms out of respect for Kennedy. Most likely, the number will be worn as a helmet decal.
The New Orleans Saints wore very large “96” stickers on their helmets during their first week of organized team activities following Kennedy’s death last month because of Kennedy’s longtime friendship with Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, a relationship dating to Loomis’s time in the Seattle front office during Kennedy’s playing days. Kennedy later served as a consultant for Loomis and the New Orleans organization for more than 10 years following his Seahawks career, becoming a mentor to many Saints players during the period.
While Seattle hasn’t officially announced its plans for the Kennedy memorial, it has previously worn helmet stickers honoring Mike Frier (“92”),
a seventh round draft pick in 1994 who was killed Kennedy’s teammate paralyzed during the 1994 season when rookie Lamar Smith drunkenly crashed into a street pole, Fritz Shurmur (“FS”), the defensive coordinator brought with Mike Holmgren when he was hired from Green Bay who died of liver cancer before the 1999 season, and supporting the Marysville-Pilchuck High School community (“MP”) following a shooting there in 2014. The Seahawks have also taken part in league-wide decal memorials for Pat Tillman (2004) and Gene Upshaw (2008) and the Sandy Hook massacre (2012), according to team uniform chronicler Mickel Yantz.
Kennedy’s number 96 was retired in 2012. Interestingly, Kennedy wore 96 for his whole career with Seattle except for the 1992 season when he wore 99 to honor former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jerome Brown, Kennedy’s predecessor at the University of Miami who died that year in a car crash—a mentorship Jayson Jenks detailed last week in the Seattle Times. After dedicating the season to Brown, Kennedy went on to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year that year when he totaled 14 sacks.