All but pointless, to a point

The Seahawks' 2-14 season in 1992 was only half bad, thanks to the humongous contributions of Cortez Kennedy.

In his third NFL season, Kennedy was voted the league’s defensive player of the year after posting career highs in tackles (92), sacks (14) and tackles for losses (a still-club record 28) – and missing only two tackles. The dominating defensive tackle, and team’s first-round draft choice in 1990, was voted to the first of what would become eight Pro Bowl berths. When it came time for the All-Pro balloting, no defensive player in the league got more votes than Kennedy.

“I tell people all the time that Cortez Kennedy was probably the best football player I ever played with,” said former teammate and cornerback Shawn Springs, who did not join the Seahawks until 1997.

“And I’ve played with some great football players. But Tez was just incredible.”

Never more so than in ’92, when he was an unforgettable player on an easy-to-forget team. Kennedy didn’t always look the part, but he definitely played it.

“If you look at his body, you’d think he was an ad campaign for obesity,” Springs added recently, punctuating the statement with a laugh. “But, he just was such a good football player. You could hear Tez before the snap, ‘Hey, they’re coming this way.’ He just recognized things well, and quickly. He was also quick off the ball. He did everything right. He had great footwork. He was so disruptive.”

A side note to this success-while-surrounded-by-frustration story was the fact that Kennedy played the ’92 season wearing No. 99 – not his usual 96 – as tribute to Jerome Brown, his close friend who died in an auto accident June 25, 1992. Brown, also a defensive tackle, had worn No. 99 for the Philadelphia Eagles. He and Kennedy had been teammates at the University of Miami.

“I had to change to 99 because I know he’d want it,” Kennedy said in July of that year. “And I’ll have to play well because I know he doesn’t want me to embarrass him. I’ll miss the number (96), but not as much as I’ll miss Jerome. I’d rather wear 99 for him and for both of us.”

Kennedy, as it turned out, did not embarrass Brown by making enough plays for two players.

“Well, what could I say about Cortez?” Tom Flores, the coach of the ’92 season, offered recently. “He’s one of my favorite guys of all time. As a player, I thought he was a complete player. He had speed, size, agility, and he had a natural gift for making plays.”

And make plays Kennedy did. He sacked quarterbacks from Los Angeles (Jay Schroeder) to New England (Hugh Millen) Pittsburgh (Neil O’Donnell) to Denver (John Elway). He sacked a quarterback whose bust would end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Troy Aikman) and one who was just a bust (Todd Marinovich). He sacked a former University of Washington Husky (Millen) and a former Seahawk (Dave Krieg, who was playing for the Chiefs). He even sacked the supposedly unsackable (Randall Cunningham) – twice in one game.

The Tom Catlin/Rusty Tillman-coordinated defense fed off Kennedy’s sack lunches, as the Seahawks tied for 10th in the league by allowing an average of 286.4 yards per game. Free safety Eugene Robinson led the team in tackles (94) and interceptions (seven), and he joined Kennedy on the AFC Pro Bowl squad. Linebacker/rush-end Rufus Porter had 9½ sacks among his 90 tackles. The Seahawks allowed more than 20 points in a game just six times, and held opponents to 17 or fewer five times.

But the defense also lost end Jacob Green, the franchise’s all-time sack leader, when he was released at midseason. Green, who had been on injured reserve because of a bad knee, left the same way he always played it: With class.

“Let me make one thing clear: I didn’t quit on this team,” Green said at the time. “I didn’t say, ‘Let me out of here because we’re a loser.’ Right now, we’re in the tank and that’s the bottom line. It was tough for me to be on the sidelines and watch it, not be a part of it. When they hurt, I hurt.” Despite the stout showing by the defense, the Seahawks managed to win only two games – 10-6 over the Patriots in New England in Week 3 and 10-6 in overtime against the Denver Broncos at the Kingdome in Week 13. That “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Broncos also was notable because longtime radio announcer Pete Gross was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in an emotional pregame ceremony. Gross would die 52 hours later of complications from his four-year battle with cancer.

That Week 3 win at New England impacted the franchise for seasons to come, because it gave the 1-15 Patriots to the first pick in the 1993 draft. The Patriots selected Washington State quarterback Drew Bledsoe, while the Seahawks took Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer with the second pick.

Speaking of quarterbacks and offense, the Seahawks were too often speechless in ’92. They scored 140 points – the fewest in league history in a 16-game season – and averaged 210.9 yards per game. They had a TD drought at midseason that reached 14 quarters, 50 possessions, 216 plays and 223 minutes before wide receiver Tommy Kane caught a scoring pass in the third quarter of a 23-10 loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands. The season-long problem was obvious: A lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball.

Sure, Chris Warren ran for 1,017 yards – making him the second 1,000-yard rusher in franchise history – and fullback John L. Williams caught a team-high 74 passes. But quarterback Stan Gelbaugh threw almost twice as many interceptions (11) as TD passes (6), and Kelly Stouffer’s ratio was 3-to-1 (nine interceptions, three TD passes).

The best indication of what was wrong with the offense is the fact that the Seahawks started four players in ’92 who were not even in the league the next season: Stouffer (seven games), Kane, wide receiver Louis Clark and tight end Ron Heller.

The beneficiary of this offensive futility was Rick Tuten, who punted 108 times for 4,760 yards – or 2.7 miles.

“What do I remember about the 1992 season?” Tuten cracked recently. “My leg got tired.”

As did losing.

Following the season-ending loss to the Chargers, who rallied for 18 points in the final five minutes against the Seahawks’ finally exhausted defense, Flores offered, “It’s like waking up from a nightmare. There’s a little bit of a relief there, like realizing that it was just a dream. But this wasn’t a dream. This was reality.”

Year in Review
2-14 (fifth in AFC West)
Ken Behring
Tom Flores
FB John L. Williams (off.), FS Eugene Robinson (def.), RB James Jones (ST)
Man of the Year
Largent Award
DE Jeff Bryant, DT Joe Nash
Leading Passer
Stan Gelbaugh (121 of 255 for 1,307 yards, with 6 TDs and 11 interceptions)
Leading Rusher
Chris Warren (1,017 yards)
Leading Receiver
Williams (74 receptions for 556 yards)
Leading Tackler(s)
Robinson (94)
Special Teams Tackles
FB Tracy Johnson (18)
Interception Leader(s)
Robinson (7)
Sack Leader
Kennedy (14)
Leading Scorer(s)
K John Kasay (56 points)
Pro Bowl Selection(s)
Kennedy, Robinson
Kennedy (first team)
National Honors
Kennedy, NFL defensive player of the year


1992: All but pointless, to a point

The Seahawks' 2-14 season in 1992 was only half bad, thanks to the humongous contributions of Cortez Kennedy.

Key Date
January 11, 1992

Seahawks Assistant Head Coach Tom Catlin announces he will stay with the Seahawks as assistant head coach/defense. In addition, Rusty Tillman is promoted from special teams coach to defensive coordinator, Russ Purnell from tight ends and assistant special teams to special teams and tight ends coach, and Paul Moyer from staff assistant to defensive backfield coach.

Key Date
January 9, 1992

Seahawks defensive assistants George Dyer (line), Rod Perry (secondary), and Joe Vitt (special assignments), along with John Becker (offensive coordinator/wide receivers) and Chick Harris (running backs) leave the Seahawks to join Chuck Knox with the Los Angeles Rams.

Key Date
January 23, 1992

Tommy Brasher is named defensive line coach. Brasher has coached nine seasons in the NFL and 12 in college.

Key Date
December 27, 1992

Seattle closes out the regular season with a 31-14 Kingdome loss to the AFC West Champion San Diego Chargers. Chris Warren becomes only the second player in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards, finishing the season with 1,017.

Larry Kennan Offensive Coordinator
January 8, 1992

Larry Kennan, Coach of the Year in the World League of American Football in 1991, is named Offensive Coordinator/ Quarterbacks Coach. Kennan guided the London Monarchs to an 11-1 record and WLAF Championship in the league’s first season. Kennan served as an NFL assistant with the Los Angeles Raiders (1982-87), Denver Broncos (1988) and Indianapolis Colts (1989-90).

Key Date
December 6, 1992

The Pittsburgh Steelers take a 20-14 comeback win in Pittsburgh, despite Eugene Robinson's record-equaling three interceptions.

Key Date
September 20, 1992

Flores gains first win as Seahawks head coach, 10-6, at New England. Cortez Kennedy has four-and-a-half tackles for loss, including three sacks, to lead the defense while Chris Warren rushes for 122 yards and one score on 24 carries to lead the offense. It's Warren's first career 100-yard game.

Key Date
November 22, 1992

Chris Warren rushes for a career-high 154 yards, including a touchdown, but the Kansas City Chiefs take a 24-14 win.

Former Seahawk CB Dave Brown Name Defensive Assist.
January 24, 1992

Former Seahawks cornerback Dave Brown (1976-86) returns to the club as a defensive assistant. An original member of the Seahawks, Brown still holds career records with 50 interceptions and four interception return touchdowns.

Key Date
January 21, 1992

Offensive Line Coach Hudson Houck and Running Backs Coach Clarence Shelmon are added to Tom Flores’ staff. Both coaches come to the Seahawks from the Los Angeles Rams.

Key Date
December 13, 1992

Roger Ruzek's 44-yard field goal as time expires in overtime gives the visiting Philadelphia Eagles a 16-13 win. The game is the longest in Seattle's history (75:00).

Pete Gross Inducted into Ring of Honor
November 30, 1992

In pregame ceremonies, play-by-play broadcaster Pete Gross is inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. The Seahawks then defeat the Denver Broncos 16-13 in overtime, snapping an eight-game losing streak. Brian Blades makes his first appearance since injuring his shoulder on opening day and catches the game-tying touchdown pass on the game's last play. John Kasay's 32-yard field goal 11:10 into overtime is the winner. The game also is the team record third straight that the Seahawks defense held the opposition to under 200 total yards.

Key Date
January 22, 1992

Bob Bratkowski, offensive coordinator at the University of Miami for the past three seasons, is named wide receivers coach. Bratkowski’s father Zeke, is a former NFL quarterback and current NFL assistant coach.

Dave Brown Inducted to Ring of Honor
August 22, 1992

Dave Brown becomes the third inductee into the Seahawks Ring of Honor.

Key Date
October 18, 1992

The Seahawks are shutout for the second consecutive week, this time 19-0 by the Los Angeles Raiders at the Kingdome, as their losing streak is extended to four games. The defense holds the Raiders to 248 yards, but 66 of them come on a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Nick Bell. Cortez Kennedy collects two of what will become 14 sacks in a season when he’s named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Key Date
November 8, 1992

Chris Warren's 103 yards aren't enough as the Washington Redskins post a 16-3 Kingdome win.

Key Date
September 6, 1992

Cincinnati Bengals spoil Tom Flores' Seahawks coaching debut with a 21-3 Kingdome win.

Beloved Broadcater Pete Gross Passes
December 2, 1992

KIRO Newsradio 710's Pete Gross, the only play-by-play broadcaster in the Seahawks 17-year history, dies after a four-year battle with cancer.

Tom Flores Named President/Head Coach
January 6, 1992

Seahawks President/General Manager Tom Flores is named President/Head Coach. Flores coached nine seasons, 1979-87, with the Oakland/ Los Angeles Raiders and compiled an 83-53-0 (61.0%) regular season record. He led the Raiders to two Super Bowl Championships, XV and XVIII, the only Super Bowls won by the AFC in the decade of the 1980s.

Let me make one thing clear: I didn’t quit on this team. I didn’t say, ‘Let me out of here because we’re a loser.’ Right now, we’re in the tank and that’s the bottom line. It was tough for me to be on the sidelines and watch it, not be a part of it. When they hurt, I hurt.
Jacob Green
I tell people all the time that Cortez Kennedy was probably the best football player I ever played with. And I’ve played with some great football players. But Tez was just incredible.
Shawn Springs
1992 Season Schedule
9/6 Cincinnati 3-21 L
9/13 AT Kansas City 7-26 L
9/20 AT New England 10-6 W
9/27 Miami 17-19 L
10/4 AT San Diego 6-17 L
10/11 AT Dallas 0-27 L
10/18 L.A. Raiders 0-19 L
10/25 AT New York Giants 10-23 L
11/8 Washington 3-16 L
11/15 AT L.A. Raiders 3-20 L
11/22 Kansas City 14-24 L
11/30 Denver 16-13 W
12/6 AT Pittsburgh 14-20 L
12/13 Philadelphia 17-20 L
12/20 AT Denver 6-10 L
12/27 San Diego 14-31 L
1992 Record
1992 Offense
C Grant Feasel 0
C Joe Tofflemire 16
G Sean Farrell 0
G Darrick Brilz 16
G Andy Heck 13
T Bill Hitchcock 11
T John Hunter 0
T Ray Roberts (R) 16
T Theo Adams 0
T Mike Keim 0
T Ronnie Lee 0
T Curt Singer 0
T Bryan Millard 0
TE Paul Green 0
TE Larry Stayner 0
TE Ron Heller 11
TE Mike Jones 0
TE Trey Junkin 0
WR Tommy Kane 11
WR Brian Blades 5
WR Brian Treggs 0
WR Doug Thomas 0
WR Robb Thomas 0
WR David Daniels 0
WR Louis Clark 10
QB Kelly Stouffer 7
QB Dan McGwire 1
QB Stan Gelbaugh 8
QB Jeff Graham 0
QB Rusty Hilger 0
FB John L. Williams 16
RB Chris Warren 16
RB Tracy Johnson 0
RB James Jones 0
RB Rueben Mayes 0
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1992 Defense
DE Jeff Bryant 15
DE Tony Woods 15
DE Michael Sinclair 0
DE Tyrone Rodgers 0
DT Cortez Kennedy 16
DT Joe Nash 16
DT Natu Tuatagaloa 0
LB Richard Newbill 0
LB Greg Clark 0
LB Marcus Cotton 0
LB Bob Spitulski 0
LB E.J. Junior 0
MLB Rod Stephens 0
MLB David Wyman 11
OLB Joe Cain 8
OLB Rufus Porter 16
OLB Terry Wooden 8
CB Dwayne Harper 16
CB Patrick Hunter 16
DB James Jefferson 0
DB Malcolm Frank 0
DB Nesby Glasgow 0
DB Vann McElroy 0
DB Brian Davis 0
DB Dedrick Dodge 0
DB Gary Dandridge 0
DB Rafael Robinson 0
FS Eugene Robinson 16
SS Robert Blackmon 15
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1992 Special Teams
K John Kasay 16
P Rick Tuten 16
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1992: The Team that Never Quit

VIDEO: 1992: The Team that Never Quit

On this Day in Seahawks History