HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Kevin Mawae remembers sitting down with Eric Mangini and thinking he fit perfectly into the new New York Jets coach's plans.
Not long after that meeting following the 2005 season, the six-time Pro Bowl center was an ex-Jet.
``I met with him for about an hour when he got the job,'' Mawae recalled on a conference call Wednesday. ``I was the first guy in his office to congratulate him and tell him he's the kind of coach that our team needed, as young as we were at that time. My only regret is that he didn't just tell me outright then that I wasn't in the plans. I'm better off for it.''
Mawae landed back on his feet when he signed with Tennessee less than two weeks after being cut by New York. The Titans host the Jets this Sunday, and it will be the second time Mawae will play against his former team. Last year, Mawae refused to discuss his departure from the Jets before the teams played in the season opener.
``I think I was a big asset to the team and I still could have been,'' he said. ``I'm not going to sit there and argue against a coach that has something in his mind about the direction he wants to take the team.''
At the time of his release, Mawae was 35 and had missed the final 10 games of the season with a torn left triceps. Some wondered if he'd be able to rebound from the injury, and the Jets didn't wait to find out. Instead, they jettisoned Mawae and drafted center Nick Mangold in the first round last year.
``Just because a guy tears a ligament or tears a muscle doesn't mean his career is over,'' he said. ``A lot of times, it's just the starting point for a new point of his career and that's what's happened for me.''
Mawae was always known as an outspoken player, and that didn't seem to fit the type of player the current regime wanted.
``You have a young coach coming in that's trying to win the confidence of his team and, obviously, he's doing things that go against the grain of what a lot of the older guys on the team were used to or know shouldn't be happening,'' he said. ``The last thing you want is a guy that knows all the rules in there and I definitely would have been one of the guys to call him out on it.''
Left guard Pete Kendall was a similar personality in the locker room, and was traded in the offseason after a bitter contract dispute. That came as no shock to Mawae.
``I wouldn't say surprised was the word. I'd say expected more than anything,'' he said. ``There was obviously a movement by the coaching staff there that they wanted to get young and get guys that weren't going to speak out against the staff and, obviously, Pete didn't fit that mold.''
Mawae said he hasn't talked directly to anyone currently on the Jets, but has heard from others that the 3-11 season has been rough on the players.
``I know the guys there are disappointed in the way the season is right now and things are tough,'' he said. ``It happens and I'm not at liberty to say some of the things that some of the older guys that I've heard comments from, but it's a tough bill.''
Despite his bitter departure, Mawae has grown fond of his new home in Tennessee.
``I'll never forget the time I spent in New York,'' Mawae said. ``Hopefully, I made a lasting impression on the fans, my teammates and the people that work in that building. The Jets will always be a part of me, but I've moved on and I'm doing well here in Tennessee, and I plan on playing for another several years if I can.''

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