By Anna Glenn Grove and Christian Kaposy
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 consists of eight members and former Tennessee Titan, Kevin Mawae, is one of them. From Louisiana State University, Mawae began his NFL career when he was taken in the second round, 36th overall, in the 1994 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He is the only member of the 2019 class that was not drafted in the first round.
He spent four seasons with the Seahawks and as a rookie played in 14 games and started in 11 where he was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team. He played at right guard for his first two pro seasons, and eventually moved permanently to center in 1996.
In 1998, Mawae signed and found himself in New York playing for the Jets and helped the team to a division title and championship game appearance in his first season there. He anchored the Jets offensive line that allowed for 44 100-yard rushing games. Mawae was consistently noted for his steady play and leadership.
After a successful eight seasons in New York, Mawae moved onto Nashville to finish out what would become the last four seasons in his NFL career. While a Titan, one of his most notable contributions was playing a dominant role in paving the way for Chris Johnson’s 2,000-yard performance to cap Mawae’s career off. He was voted to eight Pro Bowls including his final two seasons in Tennessee.
“Well, you’re talking about effort and finish and grit, and he had it. I don’t know if he needed his hearing checked but I don’t know if he ever heard the whistle. I think he heard the echo of the whistle. I became friends with him, close friends with him,” Mike Vrabel said. “He’s a great leader in our players association, being involved with that. I got to battle against him on the field and then he’d show up in March and sitting having a beer with him and I’m like are we allowed to be doing this now?”
Mawae blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in 13 of his 16 seasons playing in the NFL for five different running backs. Along with this and his eight Pro Bowls, he was also named All-Pro six times throughout his professional career. He was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2000s.
Former teammate Jevon Kearse, who played with Mawae in 2008 and 2009, had a lot to say about him.
“Most offensive guys aren’t going to the defense after practice like, ‘Listen here, this is what you are doing wrong, this is what you should do.’ He was one of the few people that played offensive line that would come to the D-line, ‘Listen here guys. This is what y’all are doing, this is what y’all are showing us. This is what you can do to improve.”