Canton, Ohio, may have been the center of the football universe on Saturday, but Louisiana was at its core.
Among the inductees to Saturday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 were a trio of players with Louisiana ties.
A pair are former LSU Tigers – center Kevin Mawae and defensive back Johnny Robinson. The third, Ed Reed, a product of Destrehan High, is the first player from the River Parish region of St. Charles, St. James and St. John parishes, to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
According to a pair of Reed’s former coaches in high school who were in Canton for the induction, having three Louisiana players enshrined into the Hall of Fame as part of the same class is just a sign of the type of stellar football that is produced in the state.
“I’ve been in Alabama for 12 years now and I’m just telling you that some of the best football in the country is being played in Louisiana,” said Scott Martin, currently the head coach at Ohatchee High and Reed’s former head coach at Destrehan. “It’s just obvious. People are going into our state (to recruit). There is a plethora of talent in this state.
“When you go and see how many guys are on active rosters (in the NFL) that are from Louisiana, and per capita population, it’s probably going to be No. 1 in the country. It’s easy to say California, Ohio or Florida or some of these places that have large populations, you look at how many people are from Louisiana, I’m really in awe of it.”
“People always talk about the type of football that’s played in Louisiana. It’s what makes football great. You can talk about coaching and facilities and stuff like that, but the bottom line is players. We’re just very fortunate to have great players. That’s obvious with the accomplishments and accolades they get later on in life,” said Stephen Robicheaux, currently Destrehan’s head coach and Reed’s defensive coordinator in high school.
Mawae, who played high school football at Leesville and starred at LSU from 1989-93, went on to play 16 years in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. He was an All-Pro eight times in his career.
Robinson, a product of University High in Baton Rouge, was part of LSU’s first national championship team in 1958.
He played his entire career with the Dallas Texas/Kansas City Chiefs franchise from 1960-71. A three-time Pro Bowler, Robinson ended his career with 57 interceptions.
“Johnny Robinson is a little bit before my time. He was a player during my dad’s time. You turn around and Kevin Mawae played at LSU during my stint when I was in Louisiana and was always a fan of what he’s done. It’s excited for the state of Louisiana to have this many people going into the Hall of Fame in one class,” said Martin.
A first-round draft pick by Baltimore out of the University of Miami in 2002, Reed was a leader of a dominant Ravens defense and was a Super Bowl champion.
Reed, who played 11 seasons in Baltimore before concluding his 13-year career with the Houston Texans and New York Jets, finished with 64 interceptions in his career, including returning seven for touchdowns.
He led the NFL three times in interceptions. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Reed returned one of his interceptions 106 yards for a touchdown and another 107 yards. Reed intercepted nine passes in 15 career playoff games.