Monday, June 11, 2012
Still surprised Mason retired as a Raven
By Jamison Hensley
If wide receiver Derrick Mason wants to retire as a Raven and the team wants him to do so, then no one should have a problem with the sides getting together for a 30-minute ceremony.
It just surprises me that Mason chose to call it quits as a member of the Ravens instead of the Titans. He played two more seasons in Tennessee than he did in Baltimore. He also had more games played, more 1,000-yard receiving seasons and more touchdowns with the Titans. He still lives in Tennessee.
Receiver Derrick Mason has decided to retire as a member of the Ravens, instead of the Titans, where he played more games.
This isn't intended as a shot at Mason. He was a tough receiver who played through injuries and never missed a game in Baltimore. He was a much-needed leader on offense, even though he could be a "diva" (that's Joe Flacco's word, not mine). He finished as the franchise's all-time leader in catches despite going through four starting quarterbacks in his first three seasons in Baltimore (Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair and Troy Smith). That's an impressive résumé.
To me, Mason just doesn't fit in the list of players who previously decided to retire as Ravens like Jonathan Ogden and Matt Stover. When you thought of those players, you thought of the Ravens. When I think of Mason, I think of him as much a member of the Titans as the Ravens. Even Jamal Lewis didn't retire as a Raven.
The one memory that stands out about Mason was in January 2004, when he stomped up and down on the Ravens midfield logo after the Titans beat the Ravens in the playoffs. But Mason said his emotions changed during his six seasons in Baltimore (2005-10).
"My heart was here [in Baltimore]," Mason said in the same suit he wore when he signed with the Ravens seven years ago. "Tennessee is a good place. It's a great place. They gave me an opportunity to start my career. For that, I will always thank the brass there. But my heart was here. You can't do something somewhere else when your heart is in another place. It was an easy choice for me."
I understand my opinion is probably in the minority. AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky made a good point that Mason is more connected to the players and coaches in Baltimore than the ones who are in Tennessee now.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome showed great respect for Mason when he placed him atop the free agents ever signed by the team. I would argue that Shannon Sharpe, Sam Adams, Michael McCrary and Rod Woodson made a bigger impact in a shorter time period.
"I don't know if there was any one player over the span of their career that did more for this organization than Derrick Mason did," Newsome said. "It could be argued that when you list them all, for what Derrick did in the years that he was here, he'd be at the top or near the top. In my mind, [he would be] probably at the top because of the number of years that he played here as a guy who wasn't drafted here."
The good part of Mason retiring as a Raven is that it puts behind any bad feelings between the sides. The Ravens cut Mason for salary-cap reasons last year, and Mason decided to sign with the New York Jets over rejoining Baltimore.
"There's not many places you can go and play some good football, go to another team and they let you come back and retire," Masons said. "That speaks volumes not just for yourself but for the organization because you meant a lot to them. I will be forever grateful for that."
I still won't remember Mason as just a Raven. But I will remember him as a receiver who played with an attitude and went underappreciated over his NFL career.