The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
Arizona State offensive analyst Kevin Mawae isn't used to being the center of attention, but as the Sun Devils' spring practice got underway Tuesday, that was indeed the case.
Mawae, 48, is entering his second year on ASU's staff and was on hand for the start of spring drills a day after returning from Atlanta, where he took in Super Bowl festivities and received word he will be included in the next Pro Football Hall of Fame Class.
He returned to his desk to find balloons, a poster with his picture on it and a celebratory cake. There was also a long-sleeved gold shirt with large letters H-O-F running down the back — the Sun Devils' version of the gold jacket honorees wear for the induction festivities in Canton.
Mawae spent 16 seasons as a center in the NFL after a decorated college career at LSU. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1994 and later played for the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.
As an offensive analyst, Mawae's contribution has been in a behind-the-scenes capacity and he has shied away from past interview requests, deferring to coach Herm Edwards and his assistant coaches. So Mawae almost seemed uncomfortable when he took the interview podium.
Mawae has shed a few tears already since Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker knocked on his hotel room door to give him the good news in person.
"I'm still floating on cloud nine. I think I've cried five times today on top of the past 48 hours I cried every 10 minutes of the last two days," he said, choking back the tears yet again. "It was never something I thought about or dreamed of. I just loved playing football.
"I'm a Hall of Famer. That's awesome."
This was Mawae's third year of eligibility.
The semifinalists are holed up in a hotel when the committee goes in to meet at 7 a.m. It's usually several hours later when the decisions are announced. Those that don't make it get a phone call.
Mawae waited in his room with his wife of 26 years, Tracy, who will give his introduction at the formal ceremony.
"You don't want the call because it means you didn't get in," he laughed. "You avoid room service because you don't want someone knocking on the door and you tell everyone you know not to call."
Before leaving Atlanta, Mawae spent considerable time with the Hall of Fame staff, who had to take measurements and start some of the prep work that goes into artist renderings and other art work that is part of the process.
He'll also book a date to travel to Utah, where he will spend some time with Blair Buswell, the artist/sculptor who has done the bust statues for the inductees since 1983.
The addition of this year's eight inductees gives the Hall of Fame 326 members, with 188 of those still living. Mawae is overwhelmed when he thinks about being a part of that select group.
"You think of all the people that have played this game. I did something a lot of people wished they could do, and did it to the highest level possible," he said. "It's overwhelming. I don't take this lightly."
Mawae was selected for the Pro Bowl eight times, including six consecutive occasions (1999–2004), and was a seven-time All-Pro. He also served two terms as the NFL Players Association president, which coincided with the 2011 NFL lockout. He later served as an assistant offensive line coach for the Chicago Bears.
He moved to Scottsdale a little over a year ago because his daughter Abigail is a member of ASU's swimming team. He interviewed for the offensive line coaching position, which eventually went to Dave Christensen, but Edwards wanted him around and offered him the offensive-analyst position, which he accepted.
While his contribution has been in more of a low-profile capacity, his contribution is not lost on those around him.
"You won't find a more humble or better individual," Christensen said. "He is a great resource for us and for our players. I'm with him every day. It's like having a thesaurus of football sitting next to me."