Kevin Mawae will become the 10th Jets player inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor on Sunday and it most likely will turn into an emotional day for the three-time, first team All-Pro center.
“I’m just excited about being up there and seeing some old teammates and things like that,” said the 46-year old Mawae, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. “When they announced [it] a couple of weeks back, it was a real emotional deal for me because you’re never expecting to be a Ring of Honor member, a Hall of Fame member. You play the game because you love it. But I’m sure at the ceremony on Sunday a wave of emotions is gonna hit me.”
Mawae played 16 seasons, eight with the Jets from, 1998-2005, becoming a key member of several successful teams. An eight-time Pro Bowler, Mawae became a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer after being a semifinalist the previous two years.
He hopes to become an offensive line coach and he spent time with the Vikings in training camp this summer as part of the internship program. Mawae also trains offensive linemen and noted that line play has gotten worse over the years.
“The last three years I really watched a lot of guys and more so because I have clients that are playing in the league,” Mawae said. “I would agree with the consensus, offensive line play has deteriorated over the last couple of years and for whatever reason some people say it’s the college spread game or the [NFL] offseason workout rules, whatever the reason may be. But they’re some good players out there and some great coaches out there. I think the emphasis of time spent with player development at all levels, college and pro, I don’t think it’s there like it used to be.”
Mawae, as a former NFLPA president, was an outspoken and influential player, but he declined to comment about the controversy surrounding President Trump’s twitter posts regarding NFL players needing to be fired if they kneeled during the national anthem.
Yet he did talk about his own health, saying he’s in good shape, other than a few aching joints. Even with the finding of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in many former players, he said he wouldn’t discourage anyone from playing football. Sunday is a celebration of that for him.
“The guys that are indeed suffering, I do feel for them,” Mawae said. “But we signed up to play this game back when we were in junior high, high school, knowing there was an inherent risk playing the game. That was my stance as a player [rep) president and that’s my stance now.
“Would I trade it for what I have now? Absolutely not. I would do it all over again. I would not discourage parents [from having their kids play football]. I think there’s lessons to be learned in this game [more] than other avenues they may choose. I understand the science and the issues that come along with it, I’m good, I’m healthy. I’m 46 years old, I work out every day, I got more joint issues than head issues, my wife and my kids may say otherwise. I’m sharp mentally and I’m not going to waste my life on what’s going to happen or may not happen 10 years from now.”