Seahawk Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy died of natural causes related to hypertensive heart disease, pneumonia and diabetes, according to an autopsy report released Monday by the Orange County Medical Examiner’s office in Orlando, Fla., where Kennedy was living.
Kennedy was found unresponsive in his home by a friend and pronounced dead at the scene on May 23.
Kennedy, one of four Seahawks to have his number retired and one of four players to play his entire career with the team to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was 48.
The report stated the official cause of death as “congestive heart failure due to hypertensive heart disease, with organizing pneumonia and diabetes mellitus as contributing factors.”
The report states that at the request of his family his brain has been sent to the Boston University School of Medicine Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center for research. The report states that request was not made by the medical examiner for a determination of cause of death but that if any evidence of CTE is found that the cause of death can be amended. The Boston CTE center has become known as the leader in research into the impact of head injuries on football players and other athletes.
The report notes Kennedy had been admitted to Orlando Regional Medical Center on May 10 for swelling in his legs, a persistent cough and dyspnea and that he had a past history of hypertension and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. He was discharged to his home on oxygen with follow-up visits scheduled.
The report states that the autopsy found Kennedy had “a markedly enlarged heart” as well as pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs).
Kennedy had been feeling ill enough in the days leading up to his death that he had canceled a scheduled appearance at a fundraiser for Special Olympics USA at the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57 on May 25.
Kennedy, who played for the Seahawks from 1990-2000, was listed in the report at 6-1 ,265 pounds.