Former Tennessee Titan Derrick Mason announced his retirement yesterday on jocklife.com. According to Mason:
I have had a tremendous career and I played for two great teams, I had fun. In my career, I have been able to do everything but win a Super Bowl. I’ve had the opportunity to play on great teams and with great players. After 12 years, I have seen it all and done it all. Right now, I am content with the decision I am making. All good things come to an end and I am ready to see what else life has to offer.
I have been thinking about this since the season ended. Emotionally I am just not that enthused. I have not been that enthused to get up and work out…it was getting to that point. This decision has nothing to do with the contract situation; I have made enough money, more than enough money. Emotionally there are things that are more important. It’s time right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen from here, but it’s going to be really nice to see what life has in store for me. What I want people to remember about my NFL career is that I played hard…played hard in practice and the game. I tried to make everyone better and would do anything to help.
There is some speculation from a few places (with different reasoning) that Mason’s retirement will be short lived. Some of this has to do with the fact that neither Mason nor his agent have formally filed any paperwork with the league. Some of this has to do with the fact that the exclusive retirement announcement was released on a website owned by his agent, Lamont Smith, and is seen by some as a negotiating ploy (there’s some back and forth on this between the Baltimore Sun and jocklife.com).
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he changes his mind for a different reason. Apparently his decision was made this past Friday, which happened to be the day between Steve McNair’s Nashville memorial (at which he spoke) and his Saturday funeral in Mississippi. Mason and McNair were close, and it’s pretty easy to assume that the last week and a half have been pretty trying for Mason. A few things stick out. McNair’s death has probably put some things into perspective for Mason, and he’s probably still grieving considerably. While football is probably low on Mason’s “life priorities” at this point, considering the context of his decision, once Steve’s death is a little bit further in the past and the 2009 season is a little closer at hand I wouldn’t be all that stunned if Mason plays this season. Either way, I take Mason at his word that this decision has nothing to do with money.
Finally, if Mason’s playing career is indeed over, he’s retiring as the most under appreciated football player that I can remember following. He’s been one of my favorite players in both Tennessee and Baltimore, and his consistency on and off the field has been an example to follow for a whole lot of players in the league. In all likelihood, Mason isn’t bound for Canton (and I probably don’t disagree with that), but he’s certainly got better numbers than some guys that are enshrined. Here’s a quick look at some of his numbers (compiled from a post I put up during last year’s playoffs):
Only four receivers have more receiving yardage this millennium (since the 2000 season):
Torry Holt: 11,872- 1,329 per season
Terrell Owens: 10,815- 1,202 per season
Randy Moss: 10, 475- 1,164 per season
Marvin Harrison: 10,439- 1,160 per season
Derrick Mason: 9,453- 1,050 per season
Derrick Mason left Tennessee as the leading receiver in Titans history (the Tennessee years) with 6,114 yards. He’s also first place in Titans/Oilers history in All Purpose Yards with 11,202, which is good for a 4,247 yard cushion over number two (Billy Johnson).
In Mason’s four years in Baltimore he’s already ascended to number two in receptions and yards in Ravens history, being the first Raven to ever pull in 100 balls in a season… Mason has eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in three of four seasons in Baltimore.