Some Hall-of-Fame candidates thump their chests and demand entry into Canton. Others shake their heads in disgust and wonder why they’ve never been elected — charging that the process isn’t all that fair.
Then there’s Kevin Mawae.
The all-decade center and former Jets’ and Titans’ star is one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2018, and he neither demands nor complains. Truth be told, he’s happy just to be here.
And how rare is that? But there’s something else you should know about Mawae: He’s this close to a gold jacket. In fact, he was a top-10 finisher a year ago in his first year as a finalist, which puts him on the launching pad for this weekend’s vote.
As he was in 2017, he will be presented by Hall-of-Fame voter Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, and we wondered if there’s anything Myers can tell voters this year that could push Mawae over the top. Mawae wondered, too.
“(With) the conversations I’ve had with Gary since last year’s vote,” Mawae said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “(there were) a lot of the reporters and writers that are voting … they knew who I was as a football player, but they didn’t know who I was as a teammate, being in the locker room and the leadership I provided for all three of the teams that I was on.
“And that was something that, until or you’re in the room or you’re on a national stage in some form or fashion, people don’t really know about. And, so, Gary … the way he put it to me; the way he explained it … was (that was) something that really helped last year. It was like light bulbs went on, and (people said), ‘Oh, we didn’t really know that about Kevin.’
“I know some people say it’s about what you do on the field, and others saying being in the locker room and with your teammates and that type of stuff is an extension of you as a player. And, so here’s the thing: I know I did things the right way in the locker room. I also know that I did them the right way on the football field.
“So my resume speaks for itself. I’m not one to sit there and pump myself and say, ‘Look what I’ve done. This is why I deserve to get in.’ Because I’m no more deserving than some of those guys, and I’m never going to look down on some of those guys who got in if I don’t get in.”
That attitude is rare these days. Shortly after he failed to be elected a year ago, Hall-of-Fame finalist Terrell Owens shredded voters, calling the Hall of Fame “a total joke.” Owens has been a candidate two years. Meanwhile, former wide receiver Drew Pearson has waited over 30 years … just to be discussed.
Pearson was a first-team all-decade choice. Owens was a second-team selection. And Kevin Mawae? First-team all-decade … and he’s in his fourth year of eligibility.
“I keep telling you I’m happy and thrilled to death to be in the top 15,” Mawae said,”and (last year) I was extremely excited to find out I was in the top 10. And as Mr. Baker (David Baker, president and CEO of the Hall) tells us, ‘If you’re in that room … if you’re in the top 15 … there’s an 85 or 90 percent chance you’re going to get in in the next couple of years.’
“And so I take that and just go along for the ride, enjoy the moment and enjoy the festivities at the Super Bowl. Hopefully, this will be the last Super Bowl I go to (where) I have to go through the process. But if it’s not, it’s not.”