NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A day after Kevin Mawae watched the Vikings and Saints show solidarity in a pregame gesture, he saw a smaller show of the same thing at a news conference announcing his retirement.
MawaeTitans left tackle Michael Roos, Titans left guard Leroy Harris and injured linebacker David Thornton joined Mawae’s family and the media in a conference room at the Vanderbilt Marriott. Mawae stopped at least three times to choke back tears as he said his goodbyes, talked about his decision and thanked some key people.
He got a phone call from an interested team about a month ago, but just didn’t feel the pull.
“In my heart, I didn’t have the desire to be grinding it out for another 16 weeks,” he said.
He helped block for Chris Johnson's 2,006-yard season last year, his career highlight as he never made it to a Super Bowl. Had a team been interested when he hit free agency, he might be preparing for opening day of his 17th season. Instead he’s dedicated to being around for his family, working as an unpaid intern in Vanderbilt’s strength and conditioning program and guiding the NFLPA through CBA negotiations as its president.
I didn't know him before, but Mawae was a first-class pro during the final four seasons of his career, played with the Titans. He was one of the team’s primary spokesmen and a key leader.
The Titans made the right move in going younger, and at least some other potential employers likely steered away from him because of his union post. (He holds it until March 2012.)
So be it. He had a great career. He didn’t sound like a guy who’s going to wake up one morning and decide he misses playing. He guaranteed he’s done.