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ASU coach Kevin Mawae details Camp T return, HOF experience

Kevin Mawae, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019, waves to the crowd during the gold jacket dinner in Canton, Ohio, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Scott Heckel/The Canton Repository via AP)


Arizona State football offensive analyst Kevin Mawae kept making headlines after his big Hall of Fame induction weekend, as he returned to ASU’s Camp Tontozona east of Payson wearing his gold jacket.

“It was a great moment,” he told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “It was great for me to see our guys, our players come up and be joyful for you and love up on you.”

Mawae also gave a speech.

“I just wanted to share a message with the players,” he said. “I watched it on Twitter last night and I was like ‘God, that was a pretty good message.’ I was just talking. I had an idea of what I wanted to say. But it came out a whole lot better than I thought it would.”

He said if he were the kids listening to him, he’d be floored.

“If I would have put myself in those shoes, I would have had my jaw dropped,” Mawae said.

“I hope for our players that that meant something to them. My message to them is ‘Everybody’s got something great about them.’ Our job is to take that greatness, whatever it is, and pull it out so that other people can be great also.”

Despite being one of the greatest offensive linemen of his era, Mawae was just as much of a fan this past weekend as anyone visiting Canton, Ohio would be.

“The lunch is that special because it’s just the Hall of Famers,” Mawae said. “No outsiders. No coaches. But that’s your opportunity to listen to the older guys, the Hall of Famers, to tell you what it means for them to be a Hall of Famer.”

The lunch was one of the highlights of Mawae’s weekend, which for him was hard to process.

“The only way we could describe it, it’s the Super Bowl for just me,” he said. “The Hall of Fame is about a five-day event, but it’s especially for just one individual. There’s eight of us, but it’s the Super Bowl weekend for just me and celebrating my career. And that’s what’s really amazing.

“The highlight of the week for me was getting my gold jacket on Friday night. If anyone ever goes to the Hall of Fame, that’s the event you don’t want to miss: the gold jacket ceremony.”

But while players usually go on and on about the induction ceremony or jacket presentation, Mawae couldn’t stop raving about the lunch.

“You go in the room, and you’re told when you go there that your job is not to speak,” he said. “So you just kind of stand in the room and it’s like being a rookie all over again in that you go in the room, and you don’t sit down until everyone else is seated, because you don’t want to sit in someone else’s space. I walk in the room and I look across the room and I see Larry Csonka, Floyd Little. I see Bob Lilly, other guys.

“Every football hero you can think of is in that room.”

Mawae said his nerves around the legends got to him, leading to a former colleague to scoop him up and calm him down.

“I’m afraid to go sit down somewhere,” he said. “And then Mike Munchack, whom I played for, he came up to me and said ‘Hey, won’t you come over here and sit with me and Bruce Matthews.’ And then I’m sitting right next to Ron Wolf, legendary GM. Joe DeLamielleure is sitting on the other side of me.”

But one guy in the room still had Mawae giddy.

“And then the guy across from me talking, he’s got a deep southern accent, and I’m trying to figure out who he is. I had never met the guy before, and I catch his name is John,” he said. “And I started thinking about it and I said, ‘That’s John Hannah. That’s John Hannah! That’s the greatest offensive lineman to ever play for the Patriots! That’s one of the greatest guards to ever play the game!’

Mawae simply could not believe the volume, level of stardom and stories being shared in the room.

“Ron Wolf [former Packers GM] is telling stories about acquiring this player and trading this guy and I just sat there amazed and in awe. I didn’t say anything unless someone asked me a question,” Mawae said.

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