Former Titans C Kevin Mawae Awaits Hall of Fame Vote

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HOUSTON – Kevin Mawae did his part.

The former Titans center played 16 NFL seasons, and was named to eight Pro Bowls during his career. He blocked for Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin with the Jets, and for running back Chris Johnson during his 2,006-yard season in Tennessee. According to Elias, Mawae played 90 games in which there was a 100-yard rusher, the most by any offensive lineman.

In 241 career games, Mawae protected quarterbacks with his life. He was durable – he played in 177 consecutive games during one stretch. And, quite simply, he was the best center of his generation, the first-team, all-decade center for the 2000s.

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Now, his Hall of Fame fate is in the hands of the voters.

"I am definitely not losing sleep over it, because it is out of my hands,'' Mawae said from Super Bowl LI. "It is in the hands of the 48 voters now. I did all I can do -- I left it all on the field and now it is up to the voters. I am excited about it, and looking forward to what the outcome may be and whatever happens, happens.

"Whether I get in or not, I won't complain about not getting in if that were to happen."

Mawae, in his second year of eligibility, last month reached the final 15, which means his candidacy will be discussed by the 48 voters here on Saturday.

The list will first be narrowed to 10, and then to five. If Mawae reaches the final five, he'd need 80% of the vote to get in.

Former Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thinks Mawae deserves to get in.

"I gained a much greater appreciate for Kevin when he went to Tennessee and Mike Munchak coached him,'' Matthews said. "I had known Kevin and played in the Pro Bowl with him. The thing I always appreciated about Kevin was he was a team-first guy. He would have been a teammate I would have enjoyed playing with. When I was playing and he was still at Seattle or the Jets, he is a guy that watched. I think he is definitely deserving and it would be cool to see him go in."

Shaun O'Hara, who played center for 11 seasons with the Giants and Browns, said he's pulling for Mawae as well.

Mawae, who played four seasons with the Titans (2006-09) after playing with the Seahawks and Jets, is one of four offensive linemen in the final 15 -- Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby and Tony Boselli are the others.

Mawae blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in 13 of his 16 seasons. Running backs Chris Warren (1,545 yards in 1994), Martin (1,697 in 2004), LenDale White (1,110 in 2007) and Johnson (2,006 in 2009) had the highest season rushing total of their career with Mawae on the line.

"There wasn't a block that he couldn't execute or master, whether it was a back block on a 350-pound nose guard or reach-blocking a shaded nose guard,'' O'Hara said of Mawae. "He was big on pulling out on a lot of outside plays, which not a lot of centers could do. And he was a very tough guy, and the fact he played as long as he did was a testament to his work ethic and durability. He is absolutely a Hall of Famer in my mind. He is one of the best centers to ever play the game, so I am certainly pulling for him this weekend. I know he'll get it. It is not a question of if, it is really just when."

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, a Hall of Fame voter who has covered the NFL for 38 years, expects there to be a lot of conversation about Mawae.

"I'm open to hearing all arguments for Kevin Mawae, and I have had a lot of people lobbying me,'' McClain said. "And I believe he has the credentials for the Hall of Fame. But this is his first time as a finalist, and I don't believe he'll get in his first time as a finalist.

Titans Online looks back at the Titans career of Hall of Fame center Kevin Mawae, who played in Tennessee from 2006-09. (Photos)

"But getting in the room and having multiple people talk about you, it helps. The key is to get a bunch of people talking about why you belong in the Hall of Fame. I think he has the credentials, and I think there's a good chance he'll go in. I just don't think he'll go in this year because it is his first year as a finalist."

Mawae plans to wait on the result from his hotel room here in Houston with his family, from his wife, kids, parents and his in-laws. He's hoping to get a knock on his door with someone delivering the good news.

In the past week, he's heard from friends all over the map, including his former position coach, Mike Munchak, a Hall of Famer himself.

The time leading up to the vote has given him plenty of time to think.

"As you get closer, you start reminiscing more,'' Mawae said. "It is not really getting nervous about the vote, it is about the memories you have of playing. You don't really think about all the good moments you had until you start thinking about your teammates and the things you accomplished together.

"There have been so many friendships I've made along the way -- the players, the coaches I played for. I think about my family, and all the people out there, those guys I played with that are sending those messages wishing me, 'Good luck' and telling me they hope I make it. All of the people around me are a part of my story. I am just happy to represent them, my family, my hometown and the teams that I played with. Hopefully things will work out where I get in, but either way it's all been very special to me."

Steve McNair leads a miraculous comeback that falls just short in Super Bowl XXXIV vs. the St. Louis Rams. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP, Getty)

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