Before you criticize Mason, remember football is a business

July 21, 2009 |

There is to be a meeting this week between John Harbaugh, Derrick Mason and the Ravens front office about Mason’s retirement announcement. The Ravens are also bringing in 4 prospects at the Wide Receiver position for a look and see. This tells me that the Ravens are making sure all bases would be covered if the retirement is legitimate.

Most fans fail to view professional sports as business and therefore don’t understand some decisions often made by players. Derrick Mason’s retirement is being viewed by Ravens fans as nothing more then a ploy to get more money; a tactic that doesn’t sit well with them. I do believe that Mason will be in uniform come Week 1 of the regular season. We will just have to wait to see if his actions tarnished his reputation with a majority of the fan base, since most fans still don’t see football for what it is – a Business.

“I would play for nothing” is a statement you will sometimes here from fans every time a disgruntled player complains about not making enough money. Nobody, in their right minds no matter what their profession, will work for free. In all types of jobs, including professional sports, a person will consider their talent better than some others and feel they deserve a higher salary. So, when someone of lesser talent gets more money, of course it will cause problems. To the average fan, there is no difference if a player makes $5 million a year versus $6 million, but to the player it is big. Most football players don’t have long careers because of the type of sport it is. So, they need to make as much money in their careers as possible. What is wrong with that – NOTHING!!

Money is used as sort of a rating system to gauge your value to the team and how good they feel you are as player and leader to get them to their ultimate goal.

Any person, who goes to their boss and demands more money – like Mason did – and does not get it, would not just sit idly waiting for something to happen. They would either leave the position or find a different way to accomplish what they feel they are worth in dollars. The fact that Derrick Mason may be the first player to use the “fake retirement” ploy as an attempt to gain leverage does not make him a despicable person. If it wasn’t Mason this year, it would be some other player very soon until it eventually became common place among players wanting contract extensions. Mason is simply exploring all the options he has in order to get more money. Something done is the business world daily.

Coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens hugs wide receiver Derrick Mason #85 after play against the Miami Dolphins during their AFC Wild Card Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Floirda.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** John Harbaugh;Derrick Mason

Last year Derrick Mason played the entire season with a separated shoulder and still put up numbers better than most wide outs in football. Despite all of this; Ravens fans- myself included- still did not believe Mason could be the “go to” receiver on the team. Mason’s numbers showed his worth to the Ravens and he had every right to feel slighted by not receiving an extension. To Mason, more money and more years on his contract equals validation that he is a good player respected by the Raven’s Organization

During the free agency period Ray Lewis made some comments during his negotiations that did not sit well with some Ravens fans. Lewis eventually re-signed and those who viewed him as a bad guy during negotiations will be the first to cheer when he makes his first tackle. Derrick Mason likely won’t be so lucky. The longer his “retirement” goes, the more fans might turn their back on him, which would be a major mistake.

Derrick Mason has done nothing but leave his heart on the field every single week of the four years he has been in a Ravens uniform. Mason has cemented his legacy as the best receiver to put on the purple and black and suddenly fans forget all about this.

So if number 85 is on the field against the Chiefs on September 13th, how will fans respond to him? Will they cheer him because of all he has accomplished or will they boo him for making a business decision which he viewed was best for him?

Those of us who understand that football or any other major sports is a Business will put this thing behind us and give our “Ocho Cinco” the love he so rightfully deserves.

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