Kevin Mawae In Hall Of Fame Speech: 'I Am Home'

August 03, 2019 - 11:10 pm
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CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Kevin Mawae never betrayed the lessons he learned when he first began playing football — flag football, no less.

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"I learned to love the preparation, the plays and the puzzle," the former Jets center said Saturday night as he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "I loved putting on my uniform and cleats. I learned to never step on the field without being ready to work."

Mawae was an outstanding center, also playing for the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans, and a key union force during the 2011 lockout of players. His leadership, along with his talent and determination, made him a three-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler and the center on the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

Offensive linemen rarely should be judged by statistics, but consider that Mawae blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in 13 of his 16 seasons — by five different running backs, capped by the NFL's sixth 2,000-yard rushing performance, by Tennessee's Chris Johnson in 2009, Mawae's final season.

Mawae, who was presented by his wife, Tracy, is the first player of Hawaiian descent and the second Polynesian member of the hall, following the late Junior Seau. His speech paid warm tribute to his family and the inspiration and love they provided him.

"I knock on this door and I tell all of you," he concluded in his speech, "I am home."

Mawae teared up when talking about his brother John, who was killed in an alcohol-related car crash in 1996.

"My biggest regret is that our brother John never got a chance to see me play in the NFL and celebrate this night with us today, but I believe God has a special place in his sky box and is looking down on us right now," Mawae said. "John is not here, but he's never forgotten and we love you."

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Mawae was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with former Chiefs and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, ex-Redskins and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, former Chiefs safety Johnny Robinson, longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.

Two other former Jets -- safety Ed Reed and cornerback Ty Law -- were also inducted, although both made their marks with other teams -- Reed with the Ravens and Law with the Patriots. 

Mawae is the first player who played a substantial portion of his career with the Jets to be enshrined since running back Curtis Martin in 2012.

WFAN.com contributed to this report.