NFF College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Lincoln Kennedy
ASN will profile all 17 new members in advance of the Dec. 8 NFF awards dinner in New York City.
Lincoln Kennedy admits that he was once so analytical, he was out thinking himself. At least he recalls one of his early Washington film sessions when he gave Keith Gilbertson, the Huskies’ then offensive line/offensive coordinator, a self-described “drawn-out, long-winded answer” to a very simple question about his play.
Gilbertson turned off the projector, turned on the lights and said: “‘You know what, Lincoln, I don’t give a crap…Just block the #$#$#S!’
“A sort of light went off for me as an offensive lineman,” Kennedy said. “It wasn’t about technique. It wasn’t about how you do things. It was just getting the job done. And that really enlightened me and helped me become a better player because now I wasn’t thinking as much.”
Kennedy, the team captain his senior season, went on to help lead the Huskies to four straight bowls and a 12-0 record as national champions his junior season of 1991. He allowed only two sacks during his four-year varsity career when Washington compiled a 39-9 record.
“During my playing time at U-Dub, my greatest motivating factor: I didn’t want to let any of my teammates down,” Kennedy said. “So when they called upon me to protect the back side of the quarterback or open up a hole for a running back, I took it as my obligation, my duty to give out my best effort. This is what I try and instill into my kids and people I speak to playing the great game of football and see that tradition carried on today.”
When Kennedy was told by phone he was part of the 2015 Hall of Fame Class, he was helping his eight-year-old son, Tavon with his homework. A tear came to his eye, causing his son to think something was wrong.
“I was stunned,” Kennedy said. “I was surprised … Those who knew me best, know the main reason I played football was to get out of the hood, to get an education. I never thought I was that good to be around these guys. … I am extremely humbled to be around all these great players and these great coaches.”
Selected ninth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1993 NFL Draft, Kennedy played for the Falcons three seasons and the Oakland Raiders eight more. The San Diego native was All-Pro two seasons, and he was part of the Raiders’ XXXVII Super Bowl team. He has hosted a show on Fox Sports Radio once a week, and he has been a member of the Raiders’ radio broadcast team. He was inducted into the Washington Husky Hall of Fame in 2004.
He also has a son, Zach Banner, who is a right tackle for the USC Trojans. The 6-foot-9, 350-pound junior, before his career has hardly taken off, already has told his father he wants to break all the records that he set at Washington. “My wife was quick to point out. ‘That’s a pretty big resume. You have got your work cut out for you.’’’
Above: Once Lincoln Kennedy realized it wasn't all about analysis, but rather just stopping what was in front of him, he became a Huskie great. (Courtesy University of Washington)