CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night (all times local):
Kevin Mawae was an outstanding center for three NFL teams, and a key union force during the 2011 lockout of players. His leadership, along with his talent and determination, have gotten Mawae into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A three-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler with the Seahawks, Jets and Titans, the center on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, Mawae was inducted Saturday night in his third year as a finalist. Offensive lineman rarely should be judged by statistics, but consider that Mawae blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in 13 of his 16 seasons — by five different running backs, capped by the NFL’s sixth 2,000-yard rushing performance, by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson in 2009, Mawae’s final season.
“I learned to love the preparation, the plays and the puzzle,” Mawae said. “I loved putting on my uniform and cleats. I learned to never step on the field without being ready to work.”
Known for his ruggedness, intelligence and versatility, Mawae played 177 consecutive games at one point. From 2008-2012, he served as president of the NFLPA, guiding it through the difficult work stoppage that led to a 10-year labor agreement with the league.
Mawae, who was presented by his wife, Tracy, is the first player of Hawaiian descent and the second Polynesian member of the hall, following the late Junior Seau.
“I knock on this door and I tell all of you,” he concluded, “I am home.”
Safety Johnny Robinson’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame makes for a half-dozen members of the great Kansas City Chiefs’ defense of the 1960s who have been enshrined.
It took him longer than any of them.
Robinson joins Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Emmitt Thomas and Curley Culp. They formed the nucleus of an AFL powerhouse that made the first Super Bowl. Robinson was passed over six times during the 1980s, but got in as a seniors committee nominee.
One of 20 players to play all 10 seasons of the AFL, he made 57 interceptions, went to seven Pro Bowls, received all-league recognition five times and was chosen to the AFL’s all-time team.
Robinson was drafted in 1960, by the Detroit Lions in the NFL and the Dallas Texans in the AFL. He wound up in Dallas, helped the team beat the two-time defending champion Houston Oilers to win the AFL title in 1962, then followed the rechristened organization to Kansas City in 1963.
He was presented by Bob Thompson, his stepson.
If anyone is an expert on all things NFL, it’s Gil Brandt, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
For six decades, Brandt has been involved in the sport at a high level, from personnel director with the Cowboys to league consultant to draft guru to broadcaster. And he has a story for every job and every situation.
Brandt cited finding NFL players on the basketball court and at historically black colleges, uncovering undrafted guys who became stars and kickers in Europe among his most rewarding experiences.
“My life has been an incredible journey, all inspired by football,” he said.
Presented by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — who fired Brandt 30 years ago when Jones bought the team — Brandt developed the Dallas scouting system that emphasized computers far before most other teams; scouted the historically black colleges and small colleges for talent; made signing undrafted free agents a science; and worked with Hall of Famers Tex Schramm, the team president, and coach Tom Landry, to build a dynasty.
Brandt moved into media after leaving the Cowboys and as an NFL consultant has offered a guiding hand in the explosive growth of the draft.
Brandt entered the hall in the contributor category.
Tony Gonzalez believes youngsters should play multiple sports.
The most accomplished tight end in NFL history, who was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, was an outstanding college basketball player. He says lessons he learned on the court helped him on the field.
“I have four kids,” he notes. “The best thing they can do is play. I was a skateboarder and learned a lot of my balance from it. Surfing, volleyball on the beach. All different sports backgrounds makes you a better athlete. Collectively, they all feed off each other.”
Gonzalez doesn’t wonder how he would have fared in the NBA, and why should he given his stellar career in football? But being so involved in sports built a foundation for his success in the NFL.
“You can’t beat it,” he says. “The ups and downs have an effect the rest of your life.”
Ty Law believes he already had a part in NFL lore before being elected this year to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The star cornerback is the first member of New England’s standout defense that won three Super Bowls in the early 2000s to make it into the Canton shrine. His aggressive style, which filtered through the Patriots’ secondary, eventually led to a rules change.
“I looked at it as a compliment,” Law said of the 2004 change that made it a penalty to be overly forceful with receivers before the ball was thrown. “The Ty Law Rule? I like that. It feels good.”
Law believes the current game — he retired in 2009 with 53 interceptions, more than 800 tackles and seven touchdowns — has gotten soft, in great part because of the rules limiting contact.
“I do feel the game is being brought down,” he said. “But the attitude has to be, ‘I know there are no rules they are going to implement that will take away from what we’re gonna do and from our success.'”
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