Kennedy will miss ‘brothers,' praises Vikings

Vikings defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy tweeted Tuesday that he is being released, but during a candid phone interview less than two hours later he praised his Vikings coaches and teammates. See what Kennedy had to say about his injury struggles, his release, his teammates and what he learned with the Vikings.

Despite Pat Williams being a free agent and a four-game suspension looming for Kevin Williams, the Vikings informed defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy that he would be released later this week.

The move frees up $2.5 million, and Kennedy said he knows he didn't earn his keep last year despite fighting through a knee injury.

"I'm a prideful man. Last year if you ask me if I did anything on the field to justify them paying me what they paid me? Hell, no," Kennedy said less than two hours after hearing from the Vikings. "I'm also not going to sit here and say that I didn't do that because of my knee and all that other stuff. I didn't do last year what I was supposed to, knee injury or not, to justify me getting paid what I supposed to be getting paid."

He had 11 tackles in 10 games played last year.

Kennedy spent most of a nearly 20-minute phone interview talking about two themes – he is taking responsibility for what he viewed as a disappointing season and he will miss teammates like defensive linemen Pat Williams, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, all three which he praised effusively.

"I'm hurting right now, not because of football. I'm hurting right now because I feel I'm missing out on my brothers right now. I love those guys," he said. "I'm glad that I had the opportunity. Literally it was an honor to look across and see [Pat Williams'] rocking chair [in the locker room]. It was an honor to go to war, to go to battle, with a guy like Jared, who leaves it all on the field. I was an honor to be next to Kevin."

Kennedy has the same agent, Tom Condon, as Kevin Williams and the two worked out often since college, even while the 2003 first-round draft picks were playing for different teams – Williams with the Vikings since then and Kennedy with the Rams, Bears, Jaguars and eventually the Vikings.

When he came to the Vikings at the end of the 2008 season, it was mainly as a three-technique tackle, the position Kevin plays. Kennedy didn't start out wanting to learn Pat Williams' position, but grew to like it.

"It was an honor to learn from Pat Williams. … I was proud to be his apprentice. I'm going into my ninth year and I've never been more proud to be someone's apprentice," Kennedy said.

"He is a monster on the field, a beast. Pat has taught me things that no coach could ever teach me because he's playing the game."

Now, Kennedy says, his goal is to "destroy the run" first and "then the fun happens" – both sentiments Pat Williams used often.

"I was forced to learn the nose guard spot and I literally loved it. And I loved it because I was taught to play it the right way," Kennedy said.

A knee injury in training camp last season limited Kennedy, and he said he received injections for it after every game. He said the knee is now fully healed and he feels "fantastic."

But it wasn't the first injury he had to battle through with the Vikings. Just before the Vikings' playoff run in 2009, he broke his thumb and had a plate with five screws inserted into the thumb. He missed some action but played against the Dallas Cowboys during the Vikings' dominating playoff game. In that contest he wore a cast and colored it black "because I didn't want anybody to feel sorry for me."

Despite all the struggles, Kennedy said he understands why the Vikings released him and complimented not only his teammates, but his position coach, head coach and even vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski.

Now he is below the 320-plus pounds he played at last year and even below his normal playing weight of 315. He is 310 and ready to find work with another team.

"I'm hurt right now because I feel like I'm losing my brothers. I respect guys that – I know with everything that's going on it's not fair to use ‘war' – but guys that I went to battle with. I think we always relate it to war because you have to trust the guys to your left and to your right. That's what I have in those guys," Kennedy said. "I'm not saying I can't find that somewhere else, but I know one thing. I was allowed to be Jimmy and I know exactly who Jimmy is and what Jimmy brings to the team and everything else. It's a role that I'm going to take, period. … It's a respect that I have to earn."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.


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Kennedy spent most of a nearly 20-minute phone interview talking about two themes – he is taking responsibility for what he viewed as a disappointing season and he will miss teammates like defensive linemen Pat Williams, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, all three which he praised effusively. \"I'm hurting right now, not because of football. I'm hurting right now because I feel I'm missing out on my brothers right now. I love those guys,\" he said. \"I'm glad that I had the opportunity. Literally it was an honor to look across and see [Pat Williams'] rocking chair [in the locker room]. It was an honor to go to war, to go to battle, with a guy like Jared, who leaves it all on the field. 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