Every season, former UCLA safety Kenny Easley autographs a helmet and sends it to his alma mater. This year’s edition is extra special.
For the first time, Easley’s looping signature on the gold helmet includes mention of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. More than 30 years after he took his last NFL snap, Easley will join the legends of the league in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday as one of 310 Pro Football Hall of Famers.
For those who knew him as a Bruin, the honor is long overdue.
“Sometimes these things take a long time for certain players,” former UCLA head coach Terry Donahue said. “Often, there’s no real explanation that’s satisfactory as to why it did, but the reality is the old adage: ‘All is well that ends well.’ The fact is that he’s now going into the Hall of Fame and he’s very, very qualified and deserving.”
After his professional career ended prematurely because of a kidney ailment, Easley, who spent his entire seven-year NFL tenure with the Seattle Seahawks, was never considered as a Modern Era Player. The 58-year-old made the cut as a Senior Member this year, receiving the required 80 percent of votes from the Senior Committee that considers only players whose careers ended at least 25 years ago.
The three-decade wait came to an end in February, when the Class of 2017 was announced on Selection Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl. That morning, Easley woke up in a cold sweat in a Houston hotel room. It was 4:30 a.m. He knew he was going to get good news soon.
He had had a vivid dream of the Seahawks’ four retired numbers hanging in CenturyLink Field: No. 80 for Steve Largent, No. 12 for the fans, No. 96 for Cortez Kennedy and…
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