CANTON, Ohio — Kevin Mawae was an outstanding center for three NFL teams, and a key union force during the 2011 lockout of players. His leadership, along with his talent and determination, have gotten Mawae into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A three-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler with the Seahawks, Jets and Titans, the center on the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Mawae was inducted Saturday night in his third year as a finalist. Offensive lineman 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.
"I learned to love the preparation, the plays and the puzzle," Mawae said. "I loved putting on my uniform and cleats. I learned to never step on the field without being ready to work."
Known for his ruggedness, intelligence and versatility, Mawae played 177 consecutive games at one point. From 2008-2012, he served as president of the NFLPA, guiding it through the difficult work stoppage that led to a 10-year labor agreement with the league.
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.
"I knock on this door and I tell all of you," he concluded, "I am home."