(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Kevin Mawae interview, fast-forward to 24:25 of the above attachment)
Kevin Mawae isn’t shy when talking about the best part of his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Man,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “I’m glad I don’t have to be waiting on that knock next year.”
A former center, Mawae was chosen in his fifth year of eligibility and his third as a finalist. Like the previous two years, he made the cut earlier this month from 15 finalists to 10. Unlike the previous two years, he didn’t stop there.
He joined Ed Reed, Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey and Ty Law as one of the five modern-era enshrinees for the Hall’s Class of 2019.
Waiting on voters five years isn’t long. In fact, it’s comparatively short. Finalist Tony Boselli has been waiting 13 years, and he’s still not in. Lynn Swann was elected in his 14th year of eligibility; John Mackey in his 15th and Carl Eller in his 20th … and last.
Then there’s Jerry Kramer. He was elected last year as a senior candidate in his 45th year of eligibility and his 11th try as a finalist.
“I talked to Mr. Kramer a lot when I was there,” Mawae said of the wait prior to his Feb. 2 election. “Even (Johnny) Robinson. The dude waited 47 years. The hard part is you can’t do anything about it. You’ve done whatever it is you can do.
“Your resume is out there for everyone to see. It’s picked apart. It’s analyzed. It’s destructed. It’s reconstructed. I mean, every which way it’s pulled and prodded for good or for bad. And then it’s measured up against everybody else that’s in that room.
“To get to the finalist list is hard enough in itself. Now you’re talking about the best-of-the-best that’s available for that year. And how you voters decide that I was more influential in my position group than, say, somebody was in their position group … but was equally one of the greatest … that’s a task that I don’t wish on anybody.”
Mawae was chosen from a group of four offensive linemen, leaving Boselli, Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca behind as the first offensive lineman to advance to Canton since Orlando Pace in 2016. All four were all-decade choices. Three of the four were first-team all-decade selections. And three were named to at least seven All-Pro teams.
Only Boselli was not, but his career was cut short by injury.
“Just take the three offensive-line guys,” said Mawae. “Boselli, Faneca and Steve Hutchinson. All three of those guys were remarkable players, and all three of them left indelible marks on the game as far as how they played their positions.
“I think it’s harder for the two guards because they both played the same spot. So, now, which one is better? Which one had more influence on their teams or the game?”
It’s a question that hasn’t been resolved. The past two years, Faneca and Hutchinson have been Top-10 choices, but neither survived the last cut. And Boselli? He’s been a Top-10 pick the past three years.
“For Boselli,” said Mawae, “he was the best in the game. He came in as the No. 1-draft pick of a brand-new franchise that went to an AFC championship game the (second) year of its existence. And he played at that level … a high level … for the time that he was in the league.
“I know the knock on Tony is his tenure; (that) he only played seven years. So you’ve got to gauge what he did in that seven years was comparable to a guy that played … 15 or 16 years, and that’s where the hard part comes. What do people value more: The longevity or the excellence in such a short period of time?
“So I can’t imagine just waiting 47 years … or 20 years … or whatever it is … to sit in that (hotel) room however many times you become a finalist. It’s awful. I think this was John Lynch’s (sixth) year as a finalist. To sit in that room that many years and not get the knock … you get to a point where it’s: Well, at least we get to go the Super Bowl for free.
“And I think that’s the only way you can handle it. Otherwise, you just drive yourself nuts, pulling your hair out trying to figure out why you’re not getting in.”
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