The opening video showed a younger Kenny Easley, in his Seattle Seahawks prime, sitting for an interview.
What he said embodied everything about his enforcing play.
“I’m vicious,” Easley says. “No doubt about it. I play the game in a vicious manner.”
So vicious that he now has his No. 45 immortalized as it hangs from the rafters at CenturyLink Field.
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The Pro Football Hall of Famer was honored during halftime of the Seahawks’ game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. His No. 45 hangs next to 80, 12, 96 and 71, coming 30 years after Easley last wore a Seahawks helmet. He also received his Hall of Fame ring, which he promptly placed around his right ring finger.
Easley was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1984 Defensive Player of the Year after being drafted in the first round in 1981.
Those other numbers retired by the Seahawks belonged to Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones, with the 12 being for the fans.
“This is really terrific to be here tonight, to see my number retired alongside Steve Largent, my former teammate,” Easley said during a brief halftime speech on the field. “I just want to say that I’ve been a man touched by prayer. For the Hall of Fame to come down on me 30 years after the fact is really a terrific thing.”
It wasn’t always a sure thing.
Easley played strong safety for the Seahawks from 1981-87 before a kidney ailment led to the end of his career at age 29. He eventually required a transplant.
He’s the fourth Seahawk to play his entire career for Seattle and enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Largent, Kennedy and Jones. He was inducted on Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.
But there was a time the Seahawks’ and Easley’s relationship was too sour to envision this day.
Easley was angry with the way his career prematurely ended. He not only avoided his former team, but the entire sport. A lawsuit involving his kidney disease was later settled out of court in the 1990s and he spent more than a decade, as he put it, “wallowing in my own anger.”
But in 2002 Seahawks owner Paul Allen helped thaw the ice between the organization and their once star defensive player and placed in him the team’s Ring of Honor.
Easley hadn’t watched a football game until that night, he said.
Allen, Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin and general manager John Schneider were on the field with Easley on Sunday, as were Largent, Jones and Courtney Kennedy, the daughter of Cortez Kennedy, who died in May. She also helped Largent and Jones raise the 12th man flag before the game.