“I think you all are in good hands with Joe who, to me, is one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Mason said. “He proved that last year.”
Mason praising Flacco’s 2011 season — the quarterback’s worst statistically since his rookie year after the lockout that wiped out the off-season program — was a final nod to what the elder receiver had imparted on the young quarterback over their three years together in Baltimore. The wideout may have had more productive years with McNair in Tennessee, but his instant rapport with Flacco during the signal-caller’s rookie season will go down as his best work with the Ravens.
While it’s important not to offer too much credit to the wide receiver for Flacco’s ability to take the Ravens to the playoffs in each of their three years together — the receiver didn’t make the quarterback; he helped nurture him — Mason’s consistency brought a calming presence to an offense and team in transition in 2008.
His role in helping to quickly cultivate the best quarterback in the history of the franchise was far more critical than any one touchdown or acrobatic sideline catch or occasional outburst when his temper got the best of him. And it’s the biggest reason why he’s the best and most important receiver in the history of the franchise, regardless of the numbers also supporting that notion.
“If they don’t trust you, you don’t catch balls,” Mason said. “But if they trust you — not only the quarterback but the offensive coordinator trusts you — then you’ll be OK, you’ll catch a lot of footballs. You’ll be able to make a lot of things happen on the field.”
And there’s no denying that Flacco trusted him immediately, leading to the quarterback’s immediate success in the NFL.
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