Following 16 seasons in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, and 10 years waiting since his retirement in 2009, Kevin Mawae took the stage Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He was born in Georgia, raised all over the country in a military family, attended high school and college in Louisiana, but is a full-blooded Hawaiian, the first to enter the Hall of Fame. Mawae started 238 of 241 career games, beginning his career at right guard, but ending it with 14 seasons as a center. He made eight trips to the Pro Bowl, was a first-team All-Pro three times, and the center on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Also in the 2019 class were Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, Ty Law and Johnny Robinson, as well as longtime Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.
When it was Mawae’s turn to speak — after being introduced by his “smoking hot” wife, Tracy — he was quick to talk on his faith. Less than a minute into his speech, he proclaimed, “I am a born again believer to the resurrection and blood of Jesus Christ, and I proudly and humbly recognize that without God’s grace and His blessings, I would not be here tonight.”
Five minutes later (at 6:20 in the video above), Mawae shared more about his faith journey. He mentioned his brother, John, was tragically killed in an alcohol-related car accident on May 5, 1996, and just weeks later he learned his wife was pregnant with their first child, a son, Kirkland.
“Those two moments changed my life, and the direction and purpose of my life forever,” Mawae said. “With that extreme sorrow followed by great joy, my focus turned to faith as I learned of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and the purposeful living in His name. Whether it be through encouragement, wisdom or resources, I learned that God can use one person to change the lives of hundreds and even thousands.
“My journey to football became a platform for the purpose of changing lives and sharing the Gospel. My biggest regret is that our brother John never got to see me play in the NFL and celebrate this night with us today. But I believe God has a special place in His sky boxes looking down on us right now. John is not here, but he’s never forgotten, and we love you.”
After his brother’s death, Mawae began to explore faith in God and try to understand who Jesus. He began reading the Bible, working through the New Testament, and attending team Bible studies, and he eventually gave his life to Christ.
Mawae’s last NFL game was the 2010 Pro Bowl, after which he had already become the NFL Players Association president, a post he held from 2008-2012. He is now a football analyst coach at Arizona State under his former Jets head coach, Herman Edwards.
— NEW PODCAST: Kevin Mawae, 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
— Brian Dawkins: ‘Heavenly Father’ guided my Hall of Fame career
— Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker a ‘sinner saved by grace of Jesus’