Washington Huskies

Former UW star Lincoln Kennedy reminisces about time with Huskies

Lincoln Kennedy already knew how much has changed at the University of Washington since he last put on a Huskies uniform in the 1993 Rose Bowl.

But the thunder and lightning on Wednesday offered a comical reminder.

Dark skies threatened the Huskies during their fifth practice of preseason camp, so as a precaution, they moved their workout inside to the Dempsey Indoor practice facility.

Kennedy, in his first season as an on-air analyst for the Pac-12 Networks, was in town to help film the network’s UW training camp special, which airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. And as the Huskies players jogged from the Husky Stadium turf to the Dempsey, with the Pac-12 Networks crew still set up on the sideline near the visitor’s locker room, the affable ex-offensive lineman yelled out, to nobody in particular: “We don’t go inside! We’re Dawgs!”

“It was so weird seeing the rain come overhead and seeing the team depart for an indoor facility,” Kennedy said with a laugh as he chatted with reporters between on-camera interviews with UW players. “We never had that luxury.”

Kennedy spent part of the day reminiscing about his time at Washington, where he played in three consecutive Rose Bowls, helped win a co-national championship in 1991 — a large ring commemorating this achievement decorates his massive right hand — and was named a unanimous All-American in 1992.

For his efforts — many consider him one of the most dominant offensive linemen of his era — Lincoln was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in January, an honor he said he never expected.

“To be honest, I didn’t know I was that good,” said Kennedy, who towered over opponents as a 6-foot-6, 335-pound tackle. “You know what, it really is a dream come true. You think about all the time and all the sweat I’ve had on this field and everything else, and to see it taken to that step, I never truly imagined it would happen.”

Since retiring from football after an 11-year NFL career with Atlanta (1993-95) then Oakland (1996-03), Kennedy has started to make a name for himself as a broadcaster. He’s been a member of the Raiders radio broadcast team since 2013, and has worked as an analyst for the NFL Network and as a co-host on FOX Sports Radio.

But when the Pac-12 called him, Kennedy said, “I jumped on it the moment it came, because this is something I’ve always wanted.”

He’s in awe of the renovated Husky Stadium — “What the Huskies have been able to do here, it’s absolutely immaculate,” he said — and said he was “ecstatic” when UW hired Chris Petersen as coach in December 2013.

“Once upon a time, blue-chippers didn’t get out of this state, and you needed that strong presence recruiting,” Kennedy said. “And in order to do that, you had to have someone who could truly relate to the kids and the people who are here. And I (think) Coach Pete does that.”

Kennedy wasn’t the only former UW football star in attendance. He interviewed former All-American safety Lawyer Milloy as part of the Pac-12 Networks’ programming. Former coach Jim Lambright, former linebacker Dave Hoffman and former tight end Mark Bruener, now a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers, were also in attendance.

NFL GIFTS $2.5 MILLION

UW medicine announced on Wednesday a new sports health and safety institute, funded in part by a $2.5 million donation from the National Football League, that will focus specifically on “research, education and advocacy for the prevention and treatment of sports-related concussions.”

“Though research is underway on the topic across the country, there are many questions that remain unanswered regarding concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI),” said Stanley A. Herring, M.D., medical director of Spine, Sports and Orthopedic Health.

“The Institute will help tremendously in forging the path forward and uncovering ways to better engage and educate all interested parties about concussions, and discover the best methods to effectively translate learning into behavior change. And, the NFL’s donation will help make this possible.”

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com

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