(on the right, Kevin Kennedy, moments before tackling and hog-tying Osama Bin Zelasko)

Let me start this entry by saying I find nothing funny about terrorism and in no way condone the practice of exploding airplanes as a political statement. In this instance, however, I might understand why an individual might feel compelled to engage in a suicide mission —XM radio subscribers know what I’m talking about.   Former Rangers/Red Sox manager and current Rays broadcaster Kevin Kennedy was amongst a group of passengers aboard a Delta Airlines flight bound for Tampa yesterday who successfully subdued a mentally deranged man who threatened to blow up the airliner.  From the New York Daily News’ Kerry Burke, Christian Red and Leo Standora :

“When I stood up, he kind of stared me down,” the 55-year-old Kennedy said. “I was probably 4 feet from him.

“As soon as he started to go for the cockpit door, we charged. We took him down. We tied him up,” Kennedy said. “But it was not an easy takedown. We finally got him hogtied with seat belt extensions from the plane.”

Kennedy said Sheffield broke free twice, snapping one of the extensions and a leather belt before finally giving up.

Sheffield’s former wife told the Daily News he’s bipolar and has been in and out of mental institutions for the past five years.

“This is a whole new level for his illness,” said Mary Sheffield, 46, of Brandon, Fla. “I wouldn’t imagine him doing anything like this in a million years. He’s been committed three times, but he’s never harmed anyone.”

“It was the real deal,” Kennedy said before the Rays’ game against Toronto on Friday night. “There wasn’t time to think, just react. When somebody says they’re going to blow up the plane, there’s no fooling around.”