Kevin Mawae spent most of his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech thanking everyone who helped him in his journey.
That included his brother and best friend John, who was killed in 1996 in a car accident on Interstate 10 near Gonzalez, Louisiana. Mawae credits his strong faith to his brother’s death.
Mawae remembered nearly everyone on his journey that led him to play 241 NFL games for three teams over 16 seasons. He made All-Pro six times and was voted to eight Pro Bowls.
Mawae, though, ended his 27-minute speech by bringing an end to his football journey.
“The game of football is the greatest game in the world,” Mawae said. “There are few environments where a group of people of different upbringings, different backgrounds, different races, religions or reasons to come together and put aside every one of those differences for a common goal of putting a team together to win a game. In that process, each one of us finds out something about ourselves, finds answers to life’s most difficult questions: Do I have what it takes to be the very best? Can I lose my ego for the good of the team? Can I bounce back after a defeat? Can I continue on when I feel like shutting down? Can I respect the differences of my teammates and others and still succeed in a highly competitive environment? Can I work with others that I don’t like just because it benefits everybody else and not just me? Can I give more of myself than I’m willing to sacrifice so somebody else can be successful.
“The game of football taught me accountability. It taught me discipline, sacrifice and selflessness. It developed in me grit, tenacity and confidence. It challenged my faith. It grew my ability. It sealed my legacy. That journey that started 40 years ago on a European continent and took me to the deep south and other parts of this great country, the journey that encompassed many miles, many friends, numerous lessons and a lifetime of memories, today that journey finally ends. Today I stand at the doorstep of football immorality. I knock on this door, and I tell all of you, ‘I am home.'”