Kevin Mawae was the catalyst for change at a time when the Jets needed to bury the tortured past and develop a successful, hard-nosed identity for the future. He was nasty, reliable and, because the Seattle Seahawks declined to retain his services, he was available.

The Jets signed Mawae to a five-year, $16.8M contract in February 1998—the highest salary ever awarded to a center at the time. There was no denying then, as there's no denying now, that every dime was money well spent.

In a game enamored with skill positions, Mawae's grace, agility, and startling quickness was a challenge to anyone who ever doubted a lineman's athleticism. His versatility took him from left tackle to right guard before finally settling down at center during his final season with the Seahawks.

He then re-established the center position once he put on his No. 68 jersey for the Jets.

Mawae was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, six with the Jets for every season from 1999 to 2004. He's also an eight-time All-Pro and was selected to the NFL 2000's All-Decade Team.

In 1998, Rich Cimini wrote about then-coach Bill Parcells' recruitment strategy for the mauler who'd become the centerpiece of an effective Jets offense:

After last season, coach Bill Parcells made a shopping list of his biggest off-season needs. The No. 1 priority was to replace Roger Duffy at center. When Parcells recruited Mawae, he pulled the actual list out of a large binder and showed it to Mawae.

Parcells couldn't stomach the thought of another season without an impact center.

"You're held hostage if you don't have a center," Parcells said. "It's the worst feeling. It's like going to the dentist. Not good news."

All eyes are on the quarterback after the snap, but it's the center and his offensive line that set the tone. Parcells knew that better than anyone, and placed his faith in the 6'4", 305-pound military brat.

Ironically enough, all the moving around in Mawae's childhood translated to his style of play on the field. Talented linemen are often called anchors—an analogy that never truly fit with Mawae's active and aggressive approach to blocking.

Hindsight allows us to see Parcells' plan for the Jets more than 13 years ago with vivid clarity today.

CAREERS INTERTWINED

Parcells and the Jets masterfully orchestrated a plan to snatch Curtis Martin away from the rival Patriots. It was Mawae's job to make the coach look brilliant for the transaction.

Martin's legendary career and consistent output is well known and appreciated among fans, but a lot of what Martin did for Gang Green is a credit to the powerhouse center who made it possible in the trenches.

Without triggering a chicken-egg debate, the center and running back simply complemented one another perfectly. They were the ideal partners, tremendous athletes entering their respective primes, on a team that needed them.

Martin and Mawae powered the Jets offense from 1998 to 2005 as the most reliable players in green. Neither missed games until 2005, when injuries staggered their careers and ended streaks for consecutive starts. (Martin started in 119-straight games; Mawae's streak ended at 177.)

Nonetheless, while injuries claimed quarterbacks, free agency lured away receivers, and ineptitude removed coaches, Martin and Mawae were the Jets' cornerstones, working tirelessly to keep the team competitive.

Martin rushed for 1,287 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season with the Jets, behind the brawny and brainy offensive line Mawae led. That continued through 2004 when Martin won the NFL rushing title with 1,697 yards behind Mawae and friends.

CENTER-SLASH-FULLBACK

One of the most significant and impressive abilities in Mawae's repertoire was quickness when pulling from the center position down the line of scrimmage. From his snap to the quarterback's handoff, Mawae sealed off edges and smashed linebackers in the mouth before the running back gained yards.

When Mawae was drafted, the concept of a pulling center was considered more of a unique skill, exclusively attributed to Steelers great Dermontti Dawson.

After Mawae left Seattle for the Jets, former teammate and Seahawks standout linebacker Chad Brown doubted Mawae's potential to be in Dawson's class.

"I don't want to take anything away from Kevin, but Dermontti is in a class by himself," Brown said before showering Mawae with praise. "Most teams don't have the athletic ability of a Kevin Mawae, who gets downfield and makes blocks against defensive backs in the secondary. Those guys turns 8-yard runs into 18- or 28-yarders. He is one of the most athletic centers in the league."

No one ever accused Brown of being clairvoyant. Perhaps his assessment of Mawae's ability felt true in 1998; it definitely didn't hold as the end of the story on Mawae's career.

In 2003, Mike Martz told T.J. Quinn of the Daily News that Mawae "does things that no other center in this league can do."

"He can pull on a linebacker that's shaded further to the side than he is and block him, which he shouldn't be able to do," Martz continued.

"He's a freak."

Quinn masterfully explained the genius behind the Jets blocking assignments during Mawae's tenure, and how they managed to confuse defenses at will:

When Mawae pulls, it is generally because the former guard has designated himself as the lead blocker when calling out the blocking scheme to his offensive line. The result is a shift in the balance of the running game, former San Francisco All-Pro center Randy Cross says.

"Instead of having a fullback blocking a linebacker, now you've got a center on a linebacker and your fullback on a corner or safety," Cross says.

Teams react to it, and several defenses the Jets have seen this season - notably the Green Bay Packers - began reacting to Mawae's movement, rather than the guards. Once the linebackers started following Mawae, the Jets were able to counter the other way for big gains.

The center established the offensive rhythm.

BY ANY MEANS

As president of the NFL Player's Association, cameras often captured Mawae in the center of this offseason's nasty labor dispute. He wasn't caught very often when he was a player doing things that earned him an intense reputation.

That's a step below calling him dirty, but a distinction that must be made for a player who "knows how much he can get away with within the rules," according to an anonymous coach speaking with Cimini in 2004.

"Sometimes he goes a little too far," the coach continued.

Early into the 2004 season, Mawae fractured his right hand in a victory against the San Diego Chargers. Then-coach Herm Edwards was mum on the details, but left room for people to speculate on Mawae's status and wonder if his streak of 157-consecutive starts was in jeopardy.

It wasn't.

Mawae returned to the field with his right hand wrapped in a cast and switched to southpaw for his ball-snapping duties. What began as a testament to his ironman toughness evolved into a running joke as analysts and fans questioned the severity of the injury weeks later.

Truthfully, it looked like Mawae was enjoying the club and using it to his advantage at every opportunity.

"The ref came up to me three or four times and said, 'I'm getting complaints,' " Mawae said after a 2004 win against Miami. "I said, 'What do you want me to do?' Don't play against me. Or I'll hide one hand behind my back."

The layers of bandages eventually came off, but Mawae's style never softened. His brand of football has a philosophy; and while he's a friendly, devout Christian off the field, Mawae's pride in his work is what made his career special to football fans.

He's the throwback player to generations ago who'd buckle his chin pad, play through pain, and do everything within his power to walk away knowing he did what was necessary.

"You either play football or you don't," Mawae told the Daily News. "Guys say I cross the line, but I've never seen my name on a list of the dirtiest players. If people take exception to the way I play, I don't care. They don't have to like it, but they'd better be ready for the way I play."

OVER IN A SNAP

To put it gently, the Jets' overall success varied widely during Mawae's tenure.

The 1998 season produced the team's best results with a 12-4 regular-season finish and a heart-breaking end in Denver for the AFC Championship Game.

Injuries devastated the team at various positions for years until Martin and Mawae suffered season-ending injuries in 2005. Martin's knees disallowed him from returning to football; Mawae's torn triceps tendon spelled the end of his career with the Jets. The future Parcells envisioned in 1998 ended.

Even without a championship, the mission was accomplished. Through Mawae, the Jets elevated from the 3-13 and 1-14 disasters of the Rich Kotite era (or error). There were bumps in the road in Mawae's seven seasons with the Jets, but hope always existed behind him. He embodied the team's competitive spirit and helped establish an identity for the Jets that still exists today.

In 2009, Mawae's successor Nick Mangold told The Jets Blog, "He really set up the center position in New York. People really know about it because of Kevin and what he was able to do."

Mangold made a seamless transition into a role Mawae defined and placed his own stamp on it, but that doesn't negate what Mawae meant for the Jets, or how people evaluate an offensive lineman.

"It was difficult coming in and having that kind of a player here before you. You have that hanging over your head," Mangold said. "But I do appreciate Kevin."

We all do.

Tags: Main Page

Who should the Jets pick at six? 00:05:25
Ralph Vacchiano and Tony Pauline discuss who the Jets will select with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Ralph Vacchiano and Tony Pauline discuss who the Jets will select with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft. 

Read More

The Class of 2017: Quarterbacks 00:05:06
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and draft analyst Tony Pauline take a close look at the quarterbacks available in the 2017 NFL Draft

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

After not doing a Mock Draft in about a decade, I've now done two versions in less than three weeks - with a third (and final) version still to come. So with eight days to go until the draft, here's my SNY Mock Draft, version 2.0. The information comes from NFL sources, draft experts, and in some cases my own mind:

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Read More

Daily News Live: New York Jets 00:03:45
Daily News Live considers all of the Jets' options regarding the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Daily News Live considers all of the Jets' options regarding the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft.


New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on looks on against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on looks on against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills)

The less the rest of the nation has to see the Jets, the better.

That seemed to be the thinking of the NFL and its partner networks as they made up the 2017 schedule. The Jets, coming off a 5-11 season and heading for a year that doesn't appear to be promising, are scheduled to play only one game in prime time on national TV - a league-mandated Thursday night game that every team must have.

Read More

 (Kelley L Cox)
(Kelley L Cox)

The Jets will open the 2017 season in Buffalo against the Bills and close it in New England against the Patriots.

The Jets will also face the Raiders in Oakland in Week 2 and host the L.A. Chargers in Week 16...

Read More

Njoku discusses the NFL draft 00:05:15
Miami tight end David Njoku discusses his senior season and how he is handling the pressure that comes with being a top draft pick.

 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Here is the most up-to-date information on what the Jets have done during free agency, including contract details and salary cap information. The signing period will continue through the NFL draft and right up until the start of training camp in July, so bookmark this page and keep checking back for frequent updates.

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

Read More

Marshon Lattimore highlights 00:00:35
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore.

The Jets will meet with Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore on Tuesday, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Gareon Conley, another CB from Ohio State, will visit the Jets on Tuesday as well.

Lattimore, 20, became a starter for the Buckeyes this past season, and was given First Team All-Big Ten honors.

The 6'0", 194-pounder redshirted during his first season at Ohio State in 2014 and was limited to just seven games in 2015 due to hamstring issues.

Read More

Motivated Muhammad Wilkerson 00:02:29
The DNL crew discusses Muhammad Wilkerson's arrival at the Jets' Florham Park facility after coming off a disappointing 2016 season.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

For the first time in three years, Muhammad Wilkerson showed up for the start of the New York Jets' offseason training program.

The big defensive lineman was pictured at the Jets facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, on Monday morning, as the team officially kicked off its voluntary workouts. Last year, Wilkerson declined to participate because he wasn't happy with being tagged as the Jets "franchise player." He skipped them in 2015 as he hoped to pressure the Jets to give him a new deal.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bryce Petty, Buster Skrine, Christian Hackenberg, David Harris, Eric Decker, Leonard Williams, Matt Forte, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Ralph Vacchiano
Read More

Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

In addition to meeting with Miami tight end David Njoku on Monday, the New York Jets also met with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and NC State safety Josh Jones, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

The Jets, who own the No. 6 pick in next week's NFL Draft, have given no indication as to which player they might pick, as a sample of 30-plus mock drafts has New York picking between eight players, ranging from quarterbacks to cornerbacks.

Foster, who recorded five sacks and 115 total tackles in his senior season with Alabama in 2016, is a 6-foot, 229-pound linebacker who did not participate in the NFL combine.

Read More

 (Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)
(Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)

CB Marcus Williams has signed his free agent tender with the Jets, the team announced Monday.

Williams, who has spent the last three seasons with the Jets, has eight interceptions over the last two seasons. 

Tags: Marcus Williams
Read More

QB Mitch Trubisky highlights 00:01:06
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays of former UNC quarterback and NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The only consensus among the mock drafters on whom the Jets will take at No. 6 is that there is no consensus -- and that's unusual for such a high pick this late in the process.

But with only 10 days to go until the first round of the NFL draft begins, the picks in 32 mock drafts examined by SNY are split fairly evenly among eight players. The belief seems to be that the Jets will use the pick to fix their secondary (50 percent of the mock drafts have them going corner or safety), though some still believe they'll take a quarterback (32 percent).

Read More

Tight end David Njoku highlights 00:01:34
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku.

The New York Jets will meet with Miami tight end David Njoku on Monday after his previously scheduled meeting with thwe Giants was canceled, according to ESPN's Jordan Raanan.

After having a formal interview with the Giants at February's NFL Combine, Njoku was scheduled to meet with the Giants for a second time on Monday, according to The Record's Art Stapleton. Instead, the New Jersey native will meet with the Jets. 

The 20-year-old Njoku, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, had 43 catches and eight touchdowns for the Hurricanes last season.

Read More

California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets will meet with former California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb this week, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Webb, 22, threw for 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his senior season with Cal. In his four-year college career, which includes three seasons at Texas Tech, he threw for 9,852 yards, 83 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

Webb, a 6-foot-5, 229-pound quarterback, has drawn comparisons to Brock Osweiler, according to his NFL.com draft profile page.

"He obviously is going to need coaching after being in those offenses at Texas Tech and Cal," one AFC scout told NFL.com. "I think he has enough between the ears to unlearn some of his bad habits and start to get things right. I see another Nick Foles if you give him time to develop."

Read More

Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley intercepts the ball intended for Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)
Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley intercepts the ball intended for Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets will meet with former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley this week, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.

Conley, whom Scouts Inc. rates as the No. 21 prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft, totaled four interceptions and eight passes defensed in 13 games with the Buckeyes last season.

A 6-foot, 195-pound junior, Conley ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, had a 37-inch vertical leap and recorded a 6.68-second three-cone drill time at the NFL combine.

Read More

 (Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)
(Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)

The Jets have terminated the contract of LB Julian Stanford.

In 2016, Stanford notched 15 solo tackles and assisted with 7 more across 9 games. He did not record a sack or interception. His lone season with the Jets, which began on the practice squad, ended when an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve.

Read More

 (Scott Galvin)
(Scott Galvin)

Jets CB Nick Marshall has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substances policy, the league announced Friday.

Marshall is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

Read More

Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are joined by Jets and NFL Draft writer Jeff Lloyd as Draft Season is in full swing, and this week they take a close look at the offensive options in the draft, even if they don't love what they see.

Click below to listen!

Read More

QB Mitch Trubisky highlights 00:01:06
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays of former UNC quarterback and NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky.

The Jets are bringing in North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky for a visit today, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.

Trubisky is widely regarded as the top quarterback prospect in this year's NFL Draft.

The Jets have made their interest in Trubisky known over the last month. New York sent a large contingent of scouts for the quarterback's pro day, and followed it up with a private workout in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
Read More

Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Center Wesley Johnson has signed his restricted free agent tender for $2.75 million to return to the Jets, according to multiple reports

Johnson started the final four games with the Jets last year when Nick Mangold was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. 

During his three seasons with the Jets, Johnson has started in nine games, with eight of those coming in 2016. 

 

Tags: Wesley Johnson

QB Pat Mahomes highlights 00:01:22
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes II.

Latest Update (April 12)

10:00AM: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes is visiting with the Jets today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Mahomes would have hired Jeremy Bates to be his private QB coach this offseason, but was unable to once the Jets hired Bates as the team's QB coach, Schefter added. The two have mutual respect for each other.

With the draft 15 days away, the Jets are reportedly looking hard at the quarterbacks available.

Read More

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)
Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets held a workout with former Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports.

Knight, 23, threw for 2,432 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 11 games with the Aggies last year.

In three prior seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners, Knight threw for 3,424 yards, 25 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Read More

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles leaves the field following a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles leaves the field following a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Jets will play three preseason games at MetLife Stadium this year.

New York will open its preseason slate at home against the Tennessee Titans between Aug. 10 and Aug. 14, then face the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 2, played between Aug. 17 and Aug. 21.

The Jets will be the road team when they face the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 3, played between Aug. 24 and Aug. 28, then end their preseason schedule at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 31.

Read More

GEICO SportsNite: Willie Colon 00:01:32
Willie Colon calls it quits for his career in the NFL and hosted a retirement party Friday attended by friends and teammates.

 (Seth Wenig/AP)
(Seth Wenig/AP)

The Jets added free agent cornerback John Ojo on Friday. The 6'3, 205 lb former Edmonton Eskimo has spent the past three years in the Canadian Football League.

His CFL run was highlighted by a 41 tackle, five interception season in 2015. 

Read More

Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett deliver a new podcast, as they dive into the potential trade market for Sheldon Richardson (if there is one), and start prospecting for new Jets recruits as the NFL Draft approaches.

Click below to listen!

 

Tags: Sheldon Richardson
Read More

Malik Hooker highlights 00:00:35
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Ohio State safety and NFL Draft prospect Malik Hooker.

Ohio State S Malik Hooker and Missouri DE Charles Harris are among the defensive Draft prospects the Jets will visit with on Thursday and Friday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

The Jets have the sixth overall selection in the Draft, which takes place April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Hooker was a First Team All-Big Ten selection this past season.

Read More

 (Ron Chenoy)
(Ron Chenoy)

The Jets have signed TE Brian Parker, the team announced Thursday.

Parker, who played in nine games for the Chiefs in 2015 (making one reception), initially signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

Read More

RB Leonard Fournette highlights 00:02:11
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former LSU running back and NFL Draft prospect Leonard Fournette.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

I don't remember doing a mock draft any time in the last 20 or so years (though I did find internet evidence of one in 2010). I'm still interpreting my record in all the other years to be perfect -- no misses. But, as they say, "No guts, no glory". It's time to put that streak on the line with my first Mock Draft for SNY. It won't be my last, either. I'll be revising this up until Draft Week. So keep checking back. This is simply version 1.0:

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Yeah, they need a quarterback, but he's the best player in the draft and they have a decent young QB on the roster. Plus they have the No. 12 pick (so stay tuned).

2. San Francisco 49ers - Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford
They need a quarterback too, but they have a new coach and GM on long-term deals. They can wait until there's a better QB crop.

Read More

Should Jets trade for Sherman? 00:01:57
Dan Graca and Jon Hein discuss if the Jets should make a trade for Richard Sherman.

Dan Graca and Jon Hein discuss if the Jets should make a trade for Seahawks CB Richard Sherman.

Read More

RB Leonard Fournette highlights 00:02:11
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former LSU running back and NFL Draft prospect Leonard Fournette.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When Leonard Fournette, the star running back at LSU and a possible target for the Jets with the sixth pick of the draft, weighed a surprising 240 at the NFL scouting combine in early March, he blamed it on drinking way too much water.

Apparently, all that water weight is now gone.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist, Matt Forte, Ralph Vacchiano
Read More

New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Former Jets center Nick Mangold is making his first known free-agent visit to meet with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, according to a report.

The 33-year-old, who was released by the Jets in February, was expected to arrive in Baltimore late Tuesday night, according to ESPN. The Ravens traded their starting center, Jeremy Zuttah, to the San Francisco 49ers last month but did not bring in a replacement.

They do have two in-house candidates - John Urschel and Ryan Jensen, both of whom are 25. If healthy, the 33-year-old Mangold could conceivably compete for that job, or at least provide a veteran mentor to help the young centers.

Tags: Nick Mangold, Ralph Vacchiano
Read More
Login with Facebook Login with Twitter Login with SNY.tv