At 38, Kevin Mawae might be a dinosaur by NFL standards, but the Tennessee Titans center says he has no inclinations about retirement, even though he is coming off elbow surgery and entering the final year of his contract.
Mawae, who made the NFL All-Pro team and was selected to the Pro Bowl last season, suffered an elbow injury in the final month of the regular season last year, and missed the postseason for the second consecutive year with the Titans.
He underwent surgery on the elbow five months ago, with the hope of being ready to go by training camp.
“I want to play this game as long as I possibly can. I love playing the game. It’s never been about the money, it’s about the enjoyment of the game,” said Mawae, who also serves as president of the NFL Players Association.
Mawae is one of a number of key players on the Titans roster who can become free agents at the end of the season _ a list that includes such notables as Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bulluck, Tony Brown and Bo Scaife, in addition to Mawae.
“I know the decision is going to have to be made. We’ve got 13 free agents coming up, and out of all those guys, I’m the oldest guy that’s there,” Mawae said.
With Mawae and guard Eugene Amano both in the last year of their deals, and the Titans having Leroy Harris waiting in the wings, it keeps Mawae on his toes about his situation.
“We’ve got some young guys that are capable of playing,” Mawae said. “Leroy Harris was drafted for a reason. But I always tell young guys when they come in that my job is to keep them off the field.”
As for his health situation, Mawae is working and rehabbing the elbow since having surgery after the season. He says he won’t take part in the June OTAs, but hopes to be ready by training camp on July 31.
“The elbow is doing fine. We’ve got another month, almost two months before training camp starts,” Mawae said. “I’m only five months out from surgery. I knew it was a six-month process. The plan was never for me to take part in the OTAs.”
And if he doesn’t make it back by, say the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 9, well, that’s OK, too. Just as long as he gets some work before the regular season opener a month later in Pittsburgh.
“The early preseason game is not a big goal of mine. The biggest goal for me is Sept. 10 in Pittsburgh. That would be the ultimate goal, but obviously, I’d have to get some work in before that, and I fully anticipate it,” he said.
Mawae first signed with Tennessee in 2006 after being let go by the New York Jets, and since that time has become not only a leader in the locker room and on the field, but quite comfortable with his surroundings in Middle Tennessee. For personal and professional reasons, he would like to finish his career as a Titan, if possible.
“I love Tennessee, and I love playing for Jeff [Fisher],” Mawae said. “I love this organization. It’s a reflection of Mr. Adams and all the way down from him to the coaching staff and the people in this building and the people of Nashville. I like living in Franklin, Tenn. My son just got admitted to a good school [Montgomery Bell Academy], and the older the kids get the harder it’s going to be for me to move. So I’d like to stick around.”
Remaining a Titan is certainly Mawae’s first choice. If that doesn’t come to pass, then it will be decision time. But that decision, he says right now, won’t include any retirement talk.
“I would love to stay here. I would love to. I’ve talked to Jeff. I’ve
talked to Mike Munchak,” Mawae said. “This is where I want to finish up my career, and if I can get a few more years, so be it. If not, we’ll have to re-evaluate it. But I have no plans on retiring after this season, so we’ll see.”