Apparently, Kevin Mawae likes to be in the thick of things.
In his two current professional roles, Mawae finds himself in the center (pun more or less intended) of very different teams: anchoring the offensive line of AFC South champion Tennessee Titans and entering the second year of his tenure as the NFL Players Association president.
Both teams have had their recent successes. The Titans went 13-3 last season, and the NFLPA is enjoying the longest stretch of labor peace in the organization’s history.
But they also face challenges ahead in the near future. The Titans are attempting to duplicate last year’s success in the wake of the renewed strength of AFC South challengers, and the Players Association needs to deal with the looming expiration of its collective bargaining agreement.
Given the opportunity for an audience with the veteran center (which might be a difficult proposition, what with all the plates he’s spinning at the moment), here are five questions for each role Mawae could answer:
1. So much of last season’s success can be attributed to this offensive line keeping Kerry Collins upright and finding the running gain again. At what point did you look at the line and think, “We’ve got the right combination of guys for this team to be successful?"
2. How does the center-quarterback relationship change depending on the type of signal-caller you’re working with (i.e. Collins working more in the pocket vs. Vince Young scrambling to make plays)?
3. Name one thing the center does over the course of a game that the average fan might not realize is happening.
4. This team is known for its long-tenured coaches, with Jeff Fisher entering his 16th season at the helm, and O-Line coach Mike Munchak starting his 13th with the team. How does that kind of continuity translate to the communication and expectations for an offensive line?
5. Even though you’ve played center for your entire career, how important is it for offensive linemen in today’s NFL to be able to be plugged into any position along the line?
1. What are the three most pressing issues facing the NFL Players Association as the current CBA approaches its end?
2. How can the NFLPA juggle the demands of the existing members when it comes to the rapidly escalating rookie contracts?
3. Can a slotted rookie pay scale, along the line of what the NBA does, work in the NFL?
4. Will there be an uncapped year in the NFL next year, and what does that prospect do to both the short-term and long-term future of the league?
5. How has your interaction been with the new NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith? How does his experience outside the league help him as the CBA bargaining sessions approach?