Kenneth Mason Easley Jr. (born January 15, 1959) is a former American college and professional football player who was a strong safety in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons during the 1980s. He played college football for the University of California, Los Angeles and was a three-time consensus All-American. A first-round pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, Easley played professionally for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks from 1981 to 1987. Easley has been considered to be among the best defensive backs during his era and one of the Seahawks' all-time greatest players.
Easley was one of Seahawks' defensive unit leaders and one of the finest defensive players in the NFL during the 1980s. In 1984, Easley was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. He was a four-time All–Pro selection and was elected to the Pro Bowl five times in his career. Easley's career ended after the 1987 season, when he was diagnosed with severe kidney disease.
After retirement, Easley owned a Cadillac dealership and later, the Norfolk Nighthawks AF2 team from 1999 to 2003. In 1998, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Easley playing for the Seahawks in 1986
|Born:||January 15, 1959|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||206 lb (93 kg)|
|High school:||Oscar F. Smith|
(South Norfolk, Virginia)
|NFL Draft:||1981 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Born and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia, Easley graduated from its Oscar F. Smith High School in 1977. He was the first player in the history of Virginia high school football to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards in a single season, and was named as an all-state and All-American selection at quarterback. In 1996, Oscar F. Smith High School honored Easley and two other football graduates Ed Beard and Steve DeLong by naming its football stadium "Beard–DeLong–Easley Field" on September 6.
Allegedly recruited by 350 colleges, Easley selected UCLA for his college football career. He started 10 games his freshman year, recording nine interceptions and was named to his first all Pac-10 squad. His 93 tackles established a school-record for tackles by a true freshman. Later, he became the first player in conference history to be honored as all-conference for four consecutive years. Playing from 1977 to 1980, Easley finished his college career with a school-record nineteen interceptions and 324 tackles. Easley was selected as a three-time consensus All-American selection—(1978, 1979, and 1980) and finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1980. His jersey number was retired by the school, and in 1991 he was elected to the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. He also played basketball at the junior varsity level for UCLA and was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the tenth round of the 1981 NBA Draft but did not play.
Easley was selected as the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He became an immediate starter as a rookie, recording three interceptions for 155 yards and one touchdown, earning him AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. In 1983, the Seahawks hired former Buffalo Bills coach Chuck Knox as their head coach and Easley immediately became the "backbone" of Knox's defense. In his first season playing for Knox, Easley won the AFC Defensive Player of the Year Award and recorded seven interceptions. In 1984, Easley led the NFL in interceptions with ten, which tied a club record. He returned two of them for touchdowns and was named as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the first safety awarded since Dick Anderson in 1973. On November 4, 1984, during a 45–0 win against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seahawks returned four interceptions for touchdowns, including one caught by Easley, breaking the record for most touchdowns scored from an interception in a game. He also took over the role of the team's main punt returner when Paul Johns got injured earlier in the season.
After the season, Easley signed a five-year contract to stay with the Seahawks, averaging $650,000 a year plus incentives. The contract made him one of the highest paid defensive players in the league. In 1985, Easley was selected for his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl, a team record until defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy was selected for his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl in 1995.
Easley was injured for most of the 1986 season. He hurt his knee against the San Diego Chargers on October 11, and the next month, missed the remainder of the season due to ankle surgery. In December, Easley was rumored to be in the trading block as the Seahawks were attempting to get the first overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in order to draft quarterback Vinny Testaverde.
In 1987, Easley was the Seahawks player representative and a leading figure in the 1987 NFL strike. Seeking a new collective bargaining agreement with free agency a major factor, the head of the National Football League Players Association Gene Upshaw managed to convince Easley and hundreds of his fellow NFL players to go on strike. As a response, the league decided to use replacement players to fill up their rosters, along with a few veterans who crossed the "picket line". When former teammate Jim Zorn offered his services to the Seahawks, Easley said
He obviously is either desperate to play in the NFL or desperate for money. Here's a guy who played in the NFL for a long time and who was adored and was admired by his fans and teammates. Now, he turns his back on us.
Easley also warned his fellow players that he was against the idea of using violence against the replacement players in order to prove a point. Once the strike ended, Easley had an off-year as the Seahawks passing defense fell to 25th in the league. His last game was a 23–20 loss against the Houston Oilers during the 1987 NFL playoffs in overtime.
Prior to the 1988 season, the Seahawks offered Easley to several clubs in an attempt to get a quarterback in return. Easley's declining play, which was partially blamed on his work during the strike and the blossoming of Easley's backup Paul Moyer, had made Easley expendable. On April 22, 1988, the Seahawks traded Easley to the Phoenix Cardinals for quarterback Kelly Stouffer. During the mandatory team physical, Easley was diagnosed with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome, a severe kidney disease that voided the trade. Easley had told Moyer that he thought his days with the Seahawks were numbered because of his involvement in the player's strike. He was not surprised when the trade happened but the kidney diagnosis had "shocked" him. The Seahawks offered several draft picks as compensation to the Cardinals to complete the trade and Easley announced his retirement a few months later.
Easley filed a lawsuit against the Seahawks, their team trainer and the team doctors stating that an overdose of Advil (ibuprofen) for an ankle injury a few years before was the cause of his kidney failure. He knew as early as 1986 that there were issues with his kidney but finally realized the severity of it when he failed the Cardinals physical. Easley claimed that he took 15 to 20 Advils daily for three months to reduce the swelling in his ankle, before a doctor intervened and told him to stop. A former teammate said that Advil and other medications were easily obtainable in the Seahawks locker room in "large dispensers" without proper medical supervision. Easley's physicians claimed that they never told him to take the quantity of Advils Easley claimed he took. His case made national headlines and formed discussion involving the safe use of over the counter medication like Advil. The lawsuit was later settled out of court.
In 1991, Easley bought into a car dealership (along with partner Rick Johnson), Alderwood Oldsmobile & Cadillac in Lynnwood Washington, (which later moved to Shoreline, Washington in 1996, taking advantage of a General Motors program that made it easier for African-Americans and other minorities to own an auto dealership. The dealership became successful and Easley was named president of the African American Dealers Association.
In 1999, Easley, along with Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, were named as the new owners of the Norfolk Nighthawks of the AF2, a semi-professional arena football league branched out from the Arena Football League. The day after the city announced Easley and Smith as owners, a controversy arose with Mark Garcea and Page Johnson, the owners of the Hampton Roads Admirals minor league hockey team, and the city of Norfolk, Virginia. Garcea and Johnson stated that they participated in the original AF2 meetings and asked the city for exclusive rights to own the franchise, providing a $5,000 down payment. Instead, the city allowed Easley and Smith to pay the league's $75,000 franchise fee. The AF2 started playing their first games in the summer of 2000. In his first season as owner, the Nighthawks averaged 6,500 fans at their home field per game, and sold 3,200 season tickets. The team made the AF2 playoffs, but lost money in their first season, which Easley blamed as "rookie mistakes" and startup costs. The team disbanded prior to the 2004 season.
After his retirement, Easley cut most of his ties with the Seahawks organization, citing the lawsuit, how his "dignity" was affected by the Stouffer trade, and how no one from the organization offered condolences after his kidney transplant. Fifteen years later, he received a phone call from Gary Wright, the Seahawks publicity director, saying that new owner Paul Allen wanted to induct Easley into the Ring of Honor, and that no other players would receive the honor again until he accepted. Easley saw this, as well as the fact that the old ownership was now gone, as an opportunity to reconcile and re-connect with the Seahawks organization. He accepted the honor and has had cordial relations with the organization since.
In his seven-year career, Easley recorded 32 interceptions for 538 yards and three touchdowns, while also returning 27 punts for 302 yards. In 2002, Easley was elected to the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor after several attempts by the Seahawks to nominate him, but he was not interested. He was also named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
The 1978 UCLA Bruins football team represented the University of California, Los Angeles during the 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season. The Pacific-8 Conference became the Pacific-10 Conference by adding Arizona and Arizona State to the league. This was Terry Donahue's third season as head coach of the Bruins.1979 All-Pacific-10 Conference football team
The 1979 All-Pacific-10 Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Pacific-10 Conference teams for the 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season.1979 UCLA Bruins football team
The 1979 UCLA Bruins football team represented the University of California, Los Angeles during the 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season. This was Terry Donahue's fourth season as the Bruins' head coach.–1980 All-Pacific-10 Conference football team
The 1980 All-Pacific-10 Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Pacific-10 Conference teams for the 1980 NCAA Division I-A football season.1980 College Football All-America Team
The 1980 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1980.
The NCAA recognizes four selectors as "official" for the 1980 season. They are (1) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), (2) the Associated Press (AP), (3) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), and (4) the United Press International (UPI). The AP, UPI, and FWAA teams were selected by polling of sports writers and/or broadcasters. The AFCA team was based on a poll of coaches. Other notable selectors, though not recognized by the NCAA as official, included Football News, a national weekly football publication, the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), The Sporting News (TSN), and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WC).Fourteen players were unanimous picks by all four official selectors. Seven of the unanimous picks were offensive players: (1) South Carolina running back and 1980 Heisman Trophy winner, George Rogers; (2) Georgia running back and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, Herschel Walker; (3) Purdue quarterback and 1980 Sammy Baugh Trophy winner, Mark Hermann; (4) Stanford wide receiver Ken Margerum; (5) Purdue tight end Dave Young; (6) Pittsburgh tackle Mark May; and (7) Notre Dame center John Scully. The seven unanimous picks on the defensive side were: (1) Pittsburgh defensive end Hugh Green, who won the 1980 Walter Camp Award, Maxwell Award, Lombardi Award, and Sporting News and UPI College Football Player of the Year awards; (2) Alabama defensive end E.J. Junior; (3) Houston defensive tackle Leonard Mitchell; (4) Baylor linebacker Mike Singletary; (5) North Carolina linebacker Lawrence Taylor; (6) UCLA defensive back Kenny Easley; and (7) USC defensive back Ronnie Lott.
In 1989, The New York Times published a follow-up on the 1980 AP All-America team. The article reported that 20 of the 22 first-team players went on to play in the NFL, with 13 still active and eight having received All-Pro honors.1980 UCLA Bruins football team
The 1980 UCLA Bruins football team was an American football team that represented the University of California, Los Angeles during the 1980 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their fifth year under head coach Terry Donahue, the Bruins compiled a 9–2 record (5–2 Pac-10), finished in second place in the Pacific-10 Conference, and were ranked #13 in the final AP Poll.UCLA's offensive leaders in 1980 were quarterback Tom Ramsey with 1,116 passing yards, running back Freeman McNeil with 1,105 rushing yards, and wide receiver Cormac Carney with 591 receiving yards.1981 NFL Draft
The 1981 NFL draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 28–29, 1981, at the New York Sheraton Hotel in New York City. The league also held a supplemental draft after the regular draft and before the regular season.
For the first time, the top two picks of the draft were named Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year, respectively.1982 All-Pro Team
The 1982 All-Pro Team is composed of the National Football League (NFL) players that were named to the Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly in 1982. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA teams. These are the four teams that are included in Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. The Sporting News did not choose a 1982 All-Pro team due to the players' strike.1983 All-Pro Team
The 1983 All-Pro Team is composed of the National Football League players that were named to the Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Pro Football Writers Association, Pro Football Weekly, and The Sporting News in 1983. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA teams. These are the five teams that are included in Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. The NEA chose two inside linebackers for the first time, as a reflection of the 3-4 which was the common alignment for NFL defenses in the mid-1980s.1984 Seattle Seahawks season
The 1984 Seattle Seahawks season was the team's ninth season with the National Football League. The season opener was moved from Sunday to Monday afternoon on Labor Day to avoid a conflict with the Seattle Mariners baseball game.
The 1984 Seahawks were a well-balanced team on offense and defense. They scored 418 points (26.1 per game), and gave up only 282 points (17.6 per game), both ranked 5th in the NFL. Their point differential of +136 points was third in the NFL; the Seahawks' giveaway/takeway ratio was +24, best in the league. The team's 63 defensive takeaways is the most in NFL history for a 16-game schedule, and the most since the merger.The team's offense boasted a 3,000-yard passer in quarterback Dave Krieg (3,671 yards), and a 1,000-yard wide receiver in Steve Largent (74 receptions for 1,164 yards). The passing attack more than made up for the loss of star running back Curt Warner, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
The Seahawks's defensive line generated an outstanding pass rush, with defensive ends Jeff Bryant and Jacob Green registering 14.5 and 13 sacks, respectively. Safety Kenny Easley led the team and league with 10 interceptions. Easley, Green, and NT Joe Nash made the All-Pro team.
In a wild Week Ten game against Kansas City, the Seahawks intercepted Kansas City's quarterbacks five times, and returned four of them for touchdowns. All the touchdown returns were for over 50 yards. In the game, the Seahawks set NFL records for most yards returning interceptions (325), and most interceptions-for-touchdowns in a game (four). Seattle would make the playoffs for the second straight season. They defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Raiders 13-7 in the wild card round. However, they were not able to advance past the Miami Dolphins, as they lost in Miami 31-10 to a powerful Dolphins squad.1985 All-Pro Team
The 1985 All-Pro Team is composed of the National Football League players that were named to the Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Pro Football Writers Association, and The Sporting News in 1985. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA teams. These are the four teams that are included in Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League.
Pro Football Weekly, which suspended operations in 1985, did not choose an All-Pro team.1987 All-Pro Team
The 1987 All-Pro Team is composed of the National Football League players that were named to the Associated Press, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Pro Football Writers Association, Pro Football Weekly and The Sporting News in 1987. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP and NEA teams. These are the five teams that are included in Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. In 1987 NEA went with a 3-4 format for their All-Pro defense.6th Annual NFL Honors
The 6th Annual NFL Honors was the awards presentation by the National Football League that honored its best players from the 2016 NFL season. It was held on February 4, 2017 and aired on Fox in the United States at 8:00 PM EST. It was hosted by Keegan-Michael Key.National Football League Defensive Player of the Year Award
Several organizations give out NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards that are listed in the NFL Record and Fact Book and Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League. The Associated Press (AP) has been giving the award since 1972; Pro Football Writers of America/Pro Football Weekly since 1970; and Sporting News has announced winners since 2008. The Newspaper Enterprise Association was the originator of the award in 1966. However, it became defunct after 1997. Also going defunct was the United Press International (UPI) AFC-NFC Defensive Player of the Year Awards that began in 1975.Norfolk Nighthawks
The Norfolk Nighthawks are a now-defunct charter member of the AF2. They played their home games at The Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. After a very impressive inaugural season, the Nighthawks never made it back to the playoffs and ceased all operations after the 2003 Af2 season. The Nighthawks coaches were: Deatrich Wise (2000-01), Mike Buck (2002), and Rick Frazier (2003). The assistant coaches were: Ron Hill, Offensive Coordinator, Ed Cunningham, Line coach, Keith Easley, Defence and Quality Control. The primary owners were: Kenny Easley, Jr (2000-02), Bruce Smith (2000-03) and Billy Mann, who was also the General Manager. Patricia Easley and Adianna Manzella were the front office leaders. Corporate Sales was covered by Don Mears, Sr.Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are a professional American football franchise based in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) West division. They joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. The Seahawks are coached by Pete Carroll. Since 2002, they have played their home games at CenturyLink Field (formerly Qwest Field), located south of downtown Seattle. They previously played home games in the Kingdome (1976–1999) and Husky Stadium (1994, 2000–2001).
Seahawks fans have been referred to collectively as the "12th Man", "12th Fan", or "12s". The Seahawks' fans have twice set the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event, first registering 136.6 decibels during a game against the San Francisco 49ers in September 2013, and later during a Monday Night Football game against the New Orleans Saints a few months later, with a then record-setting 137.6 dB. The Seahawks are the only NFL franchise based in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, and thus attract support from a wide geographical area, including some parts of Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska, as well as Canadian fans in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Walter Jones, and Kenny Easley have been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame primarily or wholly for their accomplishments as Seahawks. In addition to them, Dave Brown, Jacob Green, Dave Krieg, Curt Warner, and Jim Zorn have been inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor along with Pete Gross (radio announcer) and Chuck Knox (head coach). The Seahawks have won 10 division titles and three conference championships. They are the only team to have played in both the AFC and NFC Championship Games. They have appeared in three Super Bowls: losing 21–10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL, defeating the Denver Broncos 43–8 for their first championship in Super Bowl XLVIII, and losing 28–24 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.UCLA Bruins football statistical leaders
The UCLA Bruins football statistical leaders are individual statistical leaders of the UCLA Bruins football program in various categories, including passing, rushing, receiving, total offense, defensive stats, and kicking. Within those areas, the lists identify single-game, single-season, and career leaders. The Bruins represent the University of California, Los Angeles in the NCAA's Pac-12 Conference.
Although UCLA began competing in intercollegiate football in 1919, these lists are dominated by more recent players for several reasons:
Since 1919, seasons have increased from 8 games to 11 and then 12 games in length.
The NCAA didn't allow freshmen to play varsity football until 1972 (with the exception of the World War II years), allowing players to have four-year careers.
Bowl games only began counting toward single-season and career statistics in 2002. The Bruins have played in 11 bowl games since this decision, giving many recent players an extra game to accumulate statistics.These lists are updated through the end of the 2018 season.
Kenny Easley—awards and honors