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Patrick Kerney

Sport: Football

Born: December 30, 1976

Town: Trenton, New Jersey

Patrick Manning Kerney was born December 30, 1976 in Trenton. Patrick was one of six kids. He grew up across the Delaware River in Yardley, but attended the Princeton Day School through the ninth grade. He began playing lacrosse in grammar school and became addicted to the sport. He didn’t pull on football pads until the fall of his seventh grade year.

Patrick went away to boarding school starting in 10th grade, to the Taft School in Watertown. Taft had a fine athletic tradition. While Patrick was there, two Olympians—Allison Mleczko and Tammy Lee Shewchuk—attended the school. So did James Driscoll, a member of the 2001 Walker Cup golf team.

Patrick was very tall, but a little too skinny for the football coach’s taste. He bulked up enough to be an impact player at defensive end his junior year, and by his senior season Patrick was team captain. Patrick was also one of the best prep school wrestlers in the state. At 6'5" he was a handful in both sports. But he still weighed under 200 pounds, thus it was as a lacrosse player that Patrick garnered the most interest from college recruiters.

Patrick accepted a lacrosse scholarship from the University of Virginia in 1995 with the understanding that he could play football. He was a starting defenseman on the lacrosse team for two years before turning to football full-time. In 1996, the Cavaliers reached the NCAA Championship Game against Princeton, but lost 13–12 in overtime. Now close to 6'6" and weighing 235 pounds, Patrick was the guy lacrosse coach Dom Starsia joked that he “wanted getting off the bus first.”

As a senior defensive end, Patrick helped the Cavaliers earn a Top 20 national ranking and a trip to the Peach Bowl. He led the ACC in sacks that season with 15, and finished with 45 for his college career. He lost the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award by a single vote to his teammate, Anthony Poindexter.

In 1999, Patrick was selected by the Atlanta Falcons at the end of the first round. He won the starting job at left defensive end in 2000, and in 2001 had a breakout year with 12 sacks. The Falcons tweaked their defense in 2004 to make better use of Patrick’s skills, and he responded with a Pro Bowl performance. He had 66 tackles, batted down 9 passes, and had 13 sacks. Atlanta went 11–5 and went to the playoffs as Patrick earned Second-Team All-Pro honors.

Patrick was a classic left defense end. He had the strength to rush the quarterback and the quickness and reactions to stop the run. He was a relentless pursuer.

In 2007, Patrick was a free agent. He signed a $37 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks and was second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks in his first season with the club. He was named a First-Team All-Pro and went to his second Pro Bowl. Patrick battled upper body injuries in the final years of his career, including torn triceps, torn pectoral muscles, and two shoulder injuries that required surgical repair. Patrick called it a career after the 2009 season. He finished with 82.5 sacks.

 

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