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2017 Seattle Seahawks Yearbook

deaths of his best friend, former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jerome Brown; and his agent, Robert Fraley. There was the attempted move of the franchise to Southern California in 1996, when Cortez refused to take part in the offseason program in Anaheim because he had signed his contract with the Seattle Seahawks. There was the fact that in his 11-year career, he played in only one postseason game — a loss to the Miami Dolphins at the Kingdome following the 1999 season. And then there was his final game, a 42-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the 2000 season finale. Cortez and I discussed — mostly off the record — each of these situations that could have become problems. That I was there for him, Cortez once told me, was important to him. Cortez having the faith in me to talk about these issues and situations was important to me — memories I still cherish, especially on this day. When Cortez became eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I presented him on election day as a member of the Selection Committee. Twice. He didn’t make it either time. But he recognized the attempts by sending me and my wife to Hawaii when he finally was elected in 2012 — a needed gesture, he said, “For getting him into the Hall of Fame.” That, of course, was not the case. What Cortez did on the field landed him his rightful, and overdue, place in the Hall. Before the selection committee met on that Super Bowleve Saturday in 2012, Cortez called to make sure I had his home number, rather than his cell, so we would be able to connect — with him at home in Orlando and me in Kirkland awaiting what had to be the inevitable, this time. It was. Finally. Fantastically. That call, which was supposed to be for an interview, began with Cortez and I exchanging a lengthy series of “Unbelievables,” and included two grown men sharing tears of joy before we finally got down to business. His induction weekend in Canton, Ohio, turned into a family reunion. And, not surprisingly, Cortez made me feel like part of the family as I covered his three-day bask in the Hall of Fame sun. And that was just the middle leg of Cortez’s Triple Crown, as he already had been added to the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor (2006) and later would have his No. 96 retired (2012). I enjoyed each of those events as much as, and maybe even more than, Cortez because we had been through so much together already. That made the recognition all the sweeter. It goes without saying that Cortez was a great football player. What needs to be said on the day of his passing is that I loved the Big Guy and already miss him. RIP Cortez. 35


2017 Seattle Seahawks Yearbook
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