Kevin Mawae's resume is as well known as it is impressive. The 2019 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame made eight Pro Bowls and was a seven-time All-Pro center during his illustrious career with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.
And yet, he still felt the need to introduce himself to Frank Reich — he sent the Colts coach, who he previously didn't know, a cold text about a possible coaching opening — as more than simply "Kevin Mawae."
"You never walk in a room and expect everyone knows who you are," Mawae said. "But there's a part of that that comes with humility. You've got to have some humility about this business. It's not about what I did as a player. It's about what I hope I can bring as a coach. And it's unique in that way.
"And so you don't walk around with feathers puffed up and a peacock walk into a building with your gold jacket and say, 'I want the job.' You've got to prove yourself and go through an interview process to show you can actually coach it and actually can communicate it and stuff like that. You don't assume anything in this business. You just come in and keep your head down and do the work."
Mawae and Reich hit it off after that humble introduction, which led to an interview with general manager Chris Ballard and ultimately a job offer to join the Colts' coaching staff. Mawae will work as an assistant offensive line coach alongside offensive line coach Chris Strausser, who Mawae had previously met through a mutual connection — the late Howard Mudd (Mawae played for Mudd with the Seattle Seahawks from 1994-1997).
Mawae also played with Colts director of player engagement David Thornton with the Tennessee Titans from 2006-2009. So while he didn't have any prior experience with Reich except respecting him from afar, Mawae did have some connections to Indianapolis.
"I know the biggest thing that I've learned about this organization is about the right fit and about having the right people at the right place and the culture and continuing that culture that Frank and this staff has built," Mawae said. "I'm just fortunate that Frank felt like I fit the culture of this program and hopefully I can bring some positivity and bring some good stuff to this team."
Mawae broke into the professional coaching ranks in 2016 with the Chicago Bears, where he worked with then-rookie Cody Whitehair on transitioning from tackle to guard, then ultimately to center less than a week before the season started. He spent the next three years as an offensive analyst at Arizona State before jumping back into the NFL with the Colts.
But Mawae previously dabbled in coaching youth football - specifically, fifth and sixth graders.
"I tell everybody if you can coach fifth and sixth graders how to run a jet sweep, you can coach anybody," Mawae said.
Mawae said while he was playing didn't plan on going into coaching after retiring, but a conversation with Dowell Loggains — who's spent a number of years as an NFL offensive coordinator and was a quality control coach with the Titans toward the end of Mawae's career — pushed him in that direction. And now, the opportunity to work with Reich, Strausser and the Colts' coaching staff, and teach one of the NFL's most talented offensive lines, now presents an exciting next step for the guy with the gold jacket.
Even if he doesn't assume you know he has one.
"For me, it was a challenge to want to put my stamp on this league as a coach," Mawae said. "I think some of the greatest offensive lines that have played have had some great coaches. I played for Howard Mudd, I played for Mike Munchak, I played for Bill Muir and Doug Marrone and I think all four of those – if guys could have the four coaches I had, then you had a pretty good career.
"I think there is a uniqueness to offensive line units, when they are playing a certain way, other people know who coaches that unit. I have been around Chris Strausser now for a month or two, but I've seen him work and I knew what he did in the past. When you watch the Indianapolis Colts play it has a Chris Strausser/Howard Mudd stamp to it. It's unique. When you watch teams that Mike Munchak coached – that's something that Mike Munchak does with his guys and those units become recognized by how well they have been coached.
"For me that was a goal of mine, that's a challenge. I want to be recognized as one of the best offensive line coaches that leave the game when my time is up."
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