While most of Baltimore reels in despair over Derrick Mason’s sudden retirement earlier today, count me among the few who aren’t really that bothered by the news.
I don’t believe it.
For starters, it’s completely out of Mason’s character to pull a stunt like this. This is a bush-league way to go out. Derrick Mason isn’t bush-league.
Or, maybe he is. If he retires THIS way, giving the team the equivalent of two-weeks notice before bowing out gracefully, he’ll be remembered as the guy who put the team in a pickle exactly 14 days before training camp started.
It’s bad enough that the Ravens wide receiver corps is already “B list” material. Without Mason, the offense becomes run, run, and throw a 5-yard out pass to Todd Heap or L.J. Smith – if either one of them are healthy.
I don’t think Mason is retiring.
My guess is that he’s been THINKING about retiring and he’s been THINKING about the fact that the Ravens are making him play out his contract in ’09 and he’s not that thrilled about having no multi-year security past this coming season. So, right now, retirement makes sense.
Except that it doesn’t make sense.
Ray Lewis has one or two years of tread left on his tires. So might Ed Reed. And Todd Heap. Derrick Mason is going to walk away now? With Baltimore’s window-of-opportunity still somewhat open? Michael Oher is in the house, giving Flacco more time to throw to…who? Oh, that’s right, Derrick Mason.
Mason is miffed that the team hasn’t stepped forward with a new deal and it’s kind of hard to blame him, since he’s risked life and limb for the club over the last four years. But he’s in the November of his career and those in the May and June of their careers (Suggs and Ngata especially) are going to get the money first.
Mason would understand that if he were 27 years old.
So I’m calling a bluff here. I think Derrick Mason is going to play for the Ravens in ’09.
Consider me unworried.
That said, if, in fact, Mason decides to call it a day, it’s a bad way for him to exit.
It’s just not in his character to quit like this and put the team in a bind.
Then again, I didn’t think Derrick Mason would be speaking at Steve McNair’s funeral last weekend.
Sometimes, you just don’t know about these guys.
And, a lot of times, they do whatever is in the best interest of THEM and not the team.
In Mason’s case, he’s figuring this is the only way to create a sense of urgency from the club. Two weeks prior to camp, with no other wide receiver options of note readily available unless you count a hobbling, aging Marvin Harrison or a middle-of-the-roader like Drew Bennett — it’s the PERFECT time for a scare tactic.
Mason knows after one season in John Harbaugh’s world that the Ravens are NOT going to bring in Brandon Marshall and his paper trail of police blotter snippets. If Plaxico Burress wound up hating Tom Coughlin because of his gruff nature, imagine how thrilled he’d be to have to deal with Harbs everyday. Mason’s no dummy…he learned himself that not everyone is a Ravens-type player. Just ask Chris McAlister. He’s also well aware that no one else is available now that it’s mid-July and all.
This is typical summer-time poker from an agent who needs another $120,000 to send his kid to Brandeis or Cornell. He’s convinced Mason that this is the last resort — sticking it to the club a fortnight before the season begins.
And if Ozzie says something to Mason’s agent that doesn’t sit well with the wide receiver, he can always send in the letter and seriously call it a day.
I’m betting Mason will be in uniform – in purple – on September 13 when Kansas City comes to town.
Retiring two weeks before the season with no advance warning to the club is bush-league.
Derrick Mason is far from bush league.