Kevin Mawae never betrayed the lessons he learned when he first began playing football – flag football, no less.
His dedication and perseverance as one the NFL’s greatest centers landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
Mawae, who became the first ever Native Hawaiian to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and during his induction speech, he expressed the great pride he carries in his heritage.
“I am Hawaiian, and I am humbled to be the first Kanaka Maoli to represent the people of Hawaii, and first Hawaiian to enter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Mawae at the podium.
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.”
“I learned to love the preparation, the plays and the puzzle,” said the former New York Jets star. “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 for three NFL teams, 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 with the Seahawks, Jets and Titans, and the center on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
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.
Mawae, one of eight members of the class was also joined by former Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, a longtime resident of Kahala. Bowlen died at age 75 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease in June.