The best numbers of Derrick Mason's career came when he was with the Tennessee Titans. The final season of his 15-year career came with the New York Jets and Houston Texans. But Mason will retire a Baltimore Raven.
Mason announced his retirement at a news conference with Baltimore on Monday that included coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome. In just six seasons, Mason became the all-time leader in yards (5,777) and receptions (471) in the Ravens' short franchise history.
"The decision wasn't hard to retire, and the decision where to retire was just as easy," Mason said. "Because like I said, my heart was here, it never left. My body left but my heart stayed right in these rooms."
It's easy to forget now, but a lot of folks thought Mason's career had already peaked by the time he got to Baltimore in 2005. Mason didn't record a 1,000-yard season until age 27 with the Titans, and then ripped off three straight before leaving for the Ravens at age 31.
Incredibly, Mason put up four more 1,000-yard seasons with the receiver-starved Ravens, not to mention two more solid years in which he collected more than 750 yards. He was always a receiver that relied on toughness, route-running and smarts instead of pure physical skills.
"Over the 16 years, 17 years that we've been here, we've signed a lot of free agents, a lot of them," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "But I don't know if there is any one player over the span of their career that did more for this organization than Derrick Mason did."
While Mason won't end up in Canton, he was one of the very best possession receivers of his era. He made two Pro Bowls and had an All Pro season in 2000, when he was also an excellent return man. He's 19th in NFL history in receiving yards.
We'll remember him as a guy that played with attitude. And that attitude carried him through 15 seasons in the NFL after he fell to the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft because scouts thought he was too slow.
"My run is over," Mason said. "It was a good one, and I'm happy."