NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Mawae, president of the NFL Players Association and former Jets center, is retiring from the NFL after 16 seasons and eight Pro Bowls.
Mawae has called a news conference for Friday afternoon, and a news release posted on the NFLPA’s website Friday morning said he will be announcing his retirement.
“It’s a time of reflection for me just to think that I (had) the privilege of playing in the NFL,” Mawae said. “It’s an honor — not a right — and it’s something that I don’t take for granted. It’s one that I cherish.”
The lineman played for Tennessee last season, starting all 16 games and helping block for Chris Johnson as he ran for 2,006 yards. The starts gave Mawae 241 regular season games played, at that time the most among active linemen. He missed only three starts, in his rookie season with Seattle.
But his contract was up, the Titans chose to go younger with Leroy Harris, and no team called to sign the lineman, who turns 40 in January. He finished his career playing in his final Pro Bowl. He will serve out his term as union president, which ends in March 2012. Mawae felt his role as union president, with the league and union in the final year of their labor deal, limited interest in him.
Mawae said football was his life coming into the NFL, and compared the progression from his rookie year to now to night and day.
“Learning the business side of the NFL was a rude awakening for me, and it’s when I realized that even though it was a game, it’s a job and if you don’t perform, you don’t have a job. The one thing I have learned that keeps players in the league is consistency in how they work and how they prepare for the game,” Mawae said.
Mawae first was elected president of the players union in 2008 and was re-elected to the two-year post in March. He had been on the union’s executive committee since 2000 and was a players’ representative between 1998 and 2000.
A four-year starter at LSU, the 6-foot-4, 289-pound Mawae was drafted in the second round in 1994 by the Seahawks and also played for the New York Jets before landing with the Titans in 2006.
Mawae earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 1999 with the Jets, after blocking for Curtis Martin, who ran for 1,464 yards. He snapped his streak of playing in 177 consecutive games in October 2005 when he hurt his left triceps, knocking him out of the final 11 games.
He signed with Tennessee where he spent the final four seasons of his career, helping the team to two playoff berths as part of an offensive line that allowed an NFL-low 12 sacks in 2008. He missed the two playoff games with injuries.
“The life of an offensive lineman is one of obscurity and living in the background, but winning is always the main goal,” Mawae said. “Reaching different milestones in a career just adds to your memories when your playing days are over.”
Mawae has been working at Vanderbilt as a strength and conditioning intern with the Commodores’ football team. He also started his own lineman camp this summer.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.