When Kevin Mawae left Seattle 12 years ago, he never went back.
Until Sunday when he visits as a member of the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale, trying to help Chris Johnson get to the 2,000-yard plateau.
Mawae, drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 1994 draft, spent four years there, but in eight years with the New York Jets and now four seasons in Tennessee had never had a game scheduled back in the Pacific Northwest until this week.
“It is my first time back. It’s been 12 years. I left there after the ’97 season, and I didn’t even go back to get my house stuff,” Mawae said. “My wife went there to get our stuff moved. I’m looking forward to it. It’s exciting. I’ve got a lot of family in that part of the country. I know a lot of people. If I was retiring it would be ironic that it was my last game, but, fortunately for me, I don’t plan on retiring any time soon.”
Mawae, who turns 39 in January, played in the long-demolished Kingdome while a Seahawk, and said he had a hand in getting Qwest Field built.
“I became registered voter in Washington so I could vote on the referendum for the new stadium, which I’ve never played in before,” he said.
On Sunday, Mawae and the Titans will have plenty to play for he said, even if the playoffs are unattainable. He would like to see Johnson etch his name in the record books by beating Eric Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 if he can. Johnson needs 234 yards to do that.
“Chris’ career day so far is 228. It’s possible,” Mawae said. “The Seahawks aren’t gonna make it easy for us by any stretch of the imagination. The fun thing is we have something to play for. A lot of teams going into this week, they have no chance to make the playoffs. They’ve been out of it for several weeks. They’ve got really nothing other than pride to play for.
“Us, we’ve got multiple records for Chris to play for – 78 yards to break the franchise record, 75 yards to break Marshall Faulk’s yards from the line of scrimmage, and it goes on, 128 to break 2,000 and 234 to break the 2,105 mark.”
Mawae has been bothered by an elbow injury that he termed more of a forearm problem, but said there is no way he will miss Sunday’s game, not with records for Johnson on the line, as well as him having ended up injured and out at the end of the past two seasons.
“It’s kind of like a strained hamstring with my forearm more than anything else. It’s not a structural thing. I just tweaked my forearm in the game a little bit last week, and they’re letting me rest it. No doubt, I’ll be playing this week,” Mawae said.
LenDale White’s playing time has dwindled to nothing as Johnson has made his push for 2,000 yards, but White is rooting for his teammate to reach the milestone, even at the expense of his own playing time.
“I always want to play. I never not want to play. Every down, every period, every play, whatever you want,” White said. “But with that being said, this only happens ever so often. If CJ’s healthy I want him to stay out there all game. I want him to go over 2,000 and I want him to get Eric Dickerson’s record. I want that. I want to be able to say that I played with a guy that rushed for 2,000 yards.”
White has just 11 carries for 26 yards since Nov. 8, and has not carried the ball the last three games.
“Am I upset that I’m not playing? Yes, deep down inside I am,” he said. “I want to be able to play all the time, non-stop. I love it. But when I get out there and I can’t play, I’m hurting on the inside. But at the same time, I understand. I’m not an ignorant person.”
White will only be an unrestricted free agent if a new collective bargaining agreement is worked out. Otherwise, he will be a restricted free agent this off-season. But he is trying not to think about his future just yet.
“I’m a Tennessee Titan. That’s all I can say. I don’t know what the free agency stuff brings. I don’t know what it is. I know God is good and whatever happens from here, will happen,” White said.
But while he doesn’t know where he will be, he does know he wants to play somewhere, saying that he would carry a sign saying, “Will work for food – 18 to 25 carries a game.”
Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was fined $20,000 by the NFL for his verbal abuse of the officials in the Christmas night loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher said the remarks Cecil made were not directed toward the official, even though the Titans were flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead, Fisher claims the remarks were made to Titans assistant coaches.
Cecil may appeal the fine, and if he does, then that defense will be used as part of the process.
Four Titans were held out of Thursday’s practice, including defensive tackle Tony Brown (knee/quadriceps), cornerback Ryan Mouton (ankle), tackle Troy Kropog (calf) and Mawae (elbow/forearm).