Kevin Mawae stood behind the microphone near the center of the field. The former Jets center was feeling honored over being inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at MetLife Stadium.
“Wow, this is such a great moment to be back here in front of the Gang Green, the Green and White, that made eight years of my life so special,” Mawae told the crowd at halftime of the Jets’ 23-20 overtime win over Jacksonville Sunday. “I played for 16 years, but there’s no doubt the eight years I spent playing in front of you were the most memorable years of my career.”
He became the Ring’s 18th member since its establishment in 2010. Several were standing behind him, including Joe Namath, Don Maynard and Curtis Martin, who had been given a Ring of Excellence to slip on their fingers from the Pro Football Hall of Fame at a pregame ceremony. Legends Homecoming weekend brought many former Jets on the field for both ceremonies.
Mawae earned six of his eight Pro Bowl selections playing with the Jets from 1998 through 2005. He started every game his first seven years and all six that he played in his final season for a total of 118.
He also appeared in seven postseason games, beginning with the run to the AFC Championship Game in the 1998 season. He was also in the playoffs with the Jets in 2001, 2002 and 2004.
“I will never forget my time here as a New York Jet,” Mawae told the fans. “I will bleed green and white the rest of my days.”
After Seattle drafted him in the second round out of LSU in 1994, he played his first four seasons with the Seahawks. He played his final four with Tennessee. Mawae was a Hall of Fame finalist for the Class of 2017.
In his Ring of Honor speech, he thanked his former coaches and teammates, the players who came before him and the fans.
“If you guys could do me just one favor, and I’m going to end with this, the greatest time I had in this stadium was when we did the Jets cheer,” Mawae said. “So if I can lead you, will you please give me everything you have?”
Soon “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets” resounded through the stadium. And then it was on to the second half.