Former Titans center Kevin Mawae recalled fondly his four seasons in Tennessee and says the team and the city of Nashville still hold a special place for him
Mawae, who served as an assistant offensive line coach with the Chicago Bears this season after being a coaching intern with them this summer, made the cut as one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The list of those to be enshrined in the Class of 2017 will be announced on the Saturday before Super Bowl LI.
Mawae signed with the Titans in 2006, one of four free agents brought in by then general manager Floyd Reese to help stabilize a young locker room on a team that has struggled for two seasons.
“I signed in 2006 and came in with David Thornton, Chris Hope and David Givens before he got hurt. They brought all four of us in there to bring something to the team as far as leadership,” Mawae recalled. “That was when Vince Young was a big deal and we got to 8-8 that year, which was much more than anybody expected us to do. We were just trying to change the culture of the team.”
That refrain sounds familiar as a decade later, the 2016 Titans were busy changing their fortunes, finishing 9-7 after coming off a pair of dismal seasons. Even though Mawae spent this season with the Bears, he said he still keeps up with a couple of his former teams – the Titans and the New York Jets.
“People ask me how I can keep up with both, but both were special at different times of my life. I follow both teams closely, but I probably more closely follow the Titans because I’m most recently removed from that team,” said Mawae, who still lived in Williamson County for a few years after he retired in 2010 before moving back to his native Louisiana.
Mawae didn’t recognize many faces from when the Titans paid a visit to the Bears in November this year. He chatted before the game with punter Brett Kern, one of the few holdovers on the roster from Mawae’s final season with the Titans in 2009.
He said it is good to see the Titans’ offensive line back to playing at a high level, as it did when he was there.
“For the Titans, it’s always good to see the offensive line getting back to where they’ve traditionally been when Mike Munchak was the position coach,” Mawae said.
Mawae recalled many of the friends he made with the Titans, such as fellow linemen like Benji Olson, Michael Roos, Eugene Amano, Jacob Bell, Zach Piller and, of course, Munchak, himself a Hall of Famer, as well as other teammates in the locker room. He also recalled a number of special moments like Rob Bironas’ 60-yard field goal to be at the Colts, the walk-off drive against Arizona in 2009 and his final NFL game, in Seattle, where Mawae’s career began, helping Chris Johnson reach the 2,000-yard plateau.
As for being a finalist for the Hall of Fame, after being a semifinalist the previous two years, Mawae said he is humbled to be considered.
“I’ve been a semifinalist last two years, and that was a big honor, and to get to finals this year is an even greater honor. It’s humbling and exciting all at the same time,” Mawae said. “I think the thing for me is I had lots of teammates who helped get me there and guys who made it special for me.”