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Mason Left Everything on Football Field

Posted by Gary Glenn on January 17, 2012 – 2:57 pm

It seems like just yesterday when Derrick Mason was catching passes from Steve McNair and making big plays at LP Field.

Mason, a fourth-round draft pick by the Tennessee Oilers in 1997, played his first eight NFL seasons in Tennessee, becoming the franchise’s fifth-leading all-time receiver with 453 receptions for 6,114 yards (13.5 avg) and 37 touchdowns.

He was part of a core group of legendary Titans players, including the likes of McNair, Eddie George, Frank Wycheck, Bruce Matthews, Jevon Kearse, Blaine Bishop, Samari Rolle and Kevin Dyson that led Tennessee to a Super Bowl appearance and the NFL’s best combined record from 1999-2003.

But severe salary cap issues forced the Titans to part ways with Mason following the ’04 campaign. He went on to sign with arch-rival Baltimore, where he became the Ravens’ all-time leading receiver with 471 receptions for 5,777 yards and 29 touchdowns from 2005-10.

Mason’s longevity began to wind down in 2011. The Ravens released him prior to the season, and he later spent time on the New York Jets and Houston Texans’ rosters. Mason’s decreased playing time and production in 2011 were factors in him announcing his NFL retirement last week following a 15-year career as one of the most underrated receivers in recent history.

“I’m done,” Mason told last week. “I won’t be playing football. I only knew one way to play football, going all-out and having fun out there…That’s one thing, I leave it healthy and able to run and walk and not take a half-hour or 45 minutes to get out of bed. I can jump right out of the bed and go. I don’t have lingering pains as of now. Me leaving now, even though it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to happen, I had a good run. It was fun while it lasted.”

Mason’s 15-year offensive totals include 943 receptions for 12,061 yards and 66 touchdowns. He also returned 156 kickoffs for 3,496 yards (22.4 avg) and one TD, and 182 punts for 1,590 yards (8.7 avg) and 2 TDs. Not bad for a player who initially made his living as a kick returner before blossoming into a Pro Bowl wide receiver several years later.

Mason was not always the best receiver on the field, but no one gave more effort than the feisty, 5-foot-10, 190-pounder. He would go head to head with any defensive back, often times relying on his strong will more than his natural talent.

“I tried my best because I knew I wasn’t the biggest guy out there,” Mason said during a recent interview with Kevin Ingram, Mark Howard and Frank Wycheck on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone. “I had good speed and I was quick, but there were a lot of guys bigger and faster than me. One thing they were not going to do was out-compete me and try to manhandle me out there. I wanted to be more physical to them than they were to me.”

Mason’s strong route running often compensated for his lack of size.

“I think the highest praise that I got came when I was here and I was told that if the route says 15 yards, Mason’s going to run it 15 yards. If the route says 12, Mason’s going to run it 12. He’s not going to go shorter and he’s not going to go longer,” he said. “That was a huge compliment to me.”

The early Titans years were special times, and the bond he built with several teammates, including McNair, Wycheck and George – and the receiving core of Isaac Byrd, Joey Kent, Chris Sanders and Kevin Dyson — forged memories he’ll never forget.

“We had a special chemistry and we were winning consistently,” Mason said. “I’ve always told people that group of receivers I played with was probably the most fun group I was ever with. We all had so much fun in that locker room because we were all growing up in this sport together.”

Mason, only the 13th player in NFL history with at least 900 receptions, said he leaves the game with no regrets.

“I didn’t want to leave anything on the football field,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that I gave everything I had out there each Sunday so that after a game I was physically, emotionally and mentally tired, and each time I was. I made sure that in the offseason I worked extremely hard so when I got to the season the games were easy for me. “

Mason certainly impacted the Titans’ record book. Here’s a look at some of his accomplishments in Tennessee:

  • Led the Titans in receiving four consecutive seasons from 2001-04, including a career-high 96 receptions (3rd in club history) for 1,303 yards and 8 TDs in 2003 when he made the Pro Bowl for the first time as a receiver.
  • Set the NFL record for combined yardage in a season (2,690 yards), breaking the previous record held by Lionel James (2,535), en route to his first Pro Bowl in 2000.
  • Ranks 5th in club history in receptions (453)
  • Recorded 12 receptions in a game three times (tied for 4th in team history)
  • Ranks 5th in club history with most seasons of 50 catches or more (5 from 2000-04)
  • Ranks 1st in club history with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (2001-04)
  • Registered 13 career 100-yard receiving games (ranks 5th in club history)
  • Big games included 9 receptions for 186 yards and 2 TDs vs. Cincinnati (1-6-02) and 6 receptions for 177 yards and 3 TDs vs. Houston (10-12-03)
  • Returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown in Tennessee’s 33-14 victory at Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game that led to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance

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Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Mason Left Everything on Football Field”

  1. By David Johnson on Jan 17, 2012 | Reply

    Derrick Mason you have nothing to be ashamed of you had a great run and I am glad you spent a lot of it here playing for the Titans.

  2. By taylor on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply

    Mason a true pro

  3. By Jamie on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks Derrick for all of the great years you gave to Tennessee!

  4. By margaret on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply

    Derrick was one of the best,,I guess it is time for him to move on,but we will be missed alot!

  5. By davagu on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply

    I always hated it when he left us here in Tennessee he was one of the best and i will miss him on the field thanks for all you did Mas good luck and be blessed

  6. By Ejs on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply

    I second that @davagu
    He was awesome at times, I mean he would sacrifice his body to make that spectacular catch! And most of the time he caught it too! It did bite when he was released and he went to Baltimore! Baltimore? At that time, they were our nemesis, Big Time! And D.Mase took it to our defensive backs more than once! I disliked him after he went to the Freak’n Purple Razins…I mean Ravens! But now he’s retired, Props to you D.Mase, you were very good! i hope ya get to Canton someday, 1 of only 13 other players to have 900 receptions…Awesome! Thanks for the memories Derrick, I got some good ones of ya!!!
    Go Titans…Forever Blue!!!

  7. By Nope Boy on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply

    derrick was the best

  8. By Andy on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Maybe we can get Mason back in TN as a wide receivers coach! That would be awesome. If all our receivers worked as hard as Mason and gave he effort Mason gave, we wouldn’t need to look into free agency for a good 3rd receiver. I saw alot of Mason in Nate this year. Nate left everything on the field. If we could get Mason in here to coach our guys to play like he did, we would be in pretty good shape at receiver.

  9. By kari on Jan 21, 2012 | Reply

    Derek Mason and Steve McNair are my favorite NFL players. Derek also played for MSU Spartans and since I am a true Spartan Fan, Derek will always be my favorite player. He has class, smart and just a great person. What a dedicated player. I will miss you Derek, but hope to see you in Nashville sometime.

  10. By kari on Jan 21, 2012 | Reply

    i have searched every website to find a great picture of Derek Mason that i can frame and hang in my study. So far no luck, can anyone help me out on this?

  11. By Titantru on Jan 22, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks Derek all of the great moments that you have given us throughout your wonderful career. You have been a class guy on and off the field. May God bless you and your family. Take care Bro!

  12. By mayer on Jan 22, 2012 | Reply

    Great player.. I long for the days of Eddie poundin the rock.. Mcnair throwin to
    D mas, wycheck, bennent, and k dys.. And keith bulluck and j kearse gettin after it… And that secondary was amazing.. Samari, andre, blaine.. those were the good old days..

  13. By KLong on Jan 23, 2012 | Reply

    Derrick, Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you gave here in Nashville. When you left you were missed dearly, but we continued to follow you and wish you nothing but success. Wish you could have retired a Titan…..but none the less, you retired with honor because the fans knew you gave above and beyond for us.

  14. By dave on Jan 25, 2012 | Reply

    Nobody is even mentioning his kick/punt return skills. Derrick was fearless! I wish you the best of luck in retirement, I really enjoyed watching you play for the Titans!

  15. By James Nelson on Feb 2, 2012 | Reply

    Derrick there were times when I cussed you and times I said I love that guy, but I always respected you! You are one of my all-time favorite players. I enjoyed watching you more than I did Lynn Swann in the 70’s when I was a Steelers fan before the Titans came to Tennessee. Thank you for all you gave us fans man! I have family in Baltimore and lived there for a while too and even though the Ravens were not my favorite team I secretly praised you when you mde a play against the Titans. In my eyes you will ALWAYS be a Titan and I will ALWAYS be a Titans fan. Thanks for all you did for us my brotha! Godspeed!

    One more thing, thank God you are still healthy and can jump up out of bed and enjoy your day! That is a blessing from God!

  16. By robin on May 4, 2012 | Reply

    Derrick give titan the very very best and that how i going remember him.

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