Autopsy: Former Seahawk star Cortez Kennedy died of natural causes

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2000, file photo, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy (96) celebrates Seattle's 27-24 victory over the Oakland Raiders in an NFL football game in Seattle. (AP Photo/Cheryl Hatch, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. - Former Seattle Seahawks star Cortez Kennedy's death last May was due to natural causes, an autopsy has concluded.

Kennedy, one of the best defensive linemen of his generation and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, was 48 when he died May 23, 2017. He played his entire 11-season career with the Seattle Seahawks.

The full autopsy report on his death, released Monday, revealed that Kennedy had a markedly enlarged heart. The cause of death was congestive heart failure due to hypertensive heart disease, with pneumonia and diabetes as contributing factors.

The autopsy goes on to say that Kennedy had come to Orlando Regional Medical Center about two weeks before his death with lower extremity swelling and a cough of several weeks duration. A chest X-ray found lung opacities and other findings that indicated infection or pneumonitis.

He was discharged on oxygen and several follow-up appointments were scheduled, but was found dead the next week at his home. He weighed 265 pounds and stood 6-feet-1-inch tall at the time of his death.

At the request of Kennedy's family, his intact brain was sent to Boston University School of Medicine's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center. The results of that examination were not immediately known.

As a Seahawk, Kennedy was was an unmovable wall as a dominant defensive tackle. Teammates, family and friends remembered him as a quiet, gentle soul away from the field never interested in finding himself in the spotlight.

Kennedy was an eight-time Pro Bowler and won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1992. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 draft out of Miami and Seattle smartly never let him leave. He brought notoriety to an otherwise dreadful period in Seahawks history.

"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 President David Baker said. "He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans."

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.

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