I was just as shocked as any other Ravens fan when the news broke yesterday that Derrick Mason intends to retire. Even more shocking were the unusual circumstances of announcing his retirement over the internet and not informing his teammates or the Ravens front office. As I listen to sports talk radio and read blogs on the internet I am surprised to see that the most common reaction of Ravens fans is that of anger. Fans are using words such as “unfair”, “bush league”, and “disgraceful” when attempting to express their feelings about this situation.
The more I think about this situation the more I am beginning to think this may have been a kneejerk reaction to the unfathomably tough times Mason is going through. I implore Ravens fans to show some compassion for Mason; the man has just suddenly lost his best friend. How is Mason expected to act in the face of this tragedy? The loss of a man you considered a brother is never easy to handle; when it is as unexpected and violent as Steve McNair’s was it must be unbearable. This type of traumatic experience isn’t going to leave you with a clear head to make rational decisions but rather leave you to make irrational decisions that are not fully thought through and can at the time seem very selfish. Derrick is also going through a weird realization in his life; McNair, age 36, was only one year older then Mason. Seeing someone so close in age lose their life makes you begin to question your priorities and rethink your entire life.
On top of the internal anguish Mason is currently going through he is also saddled with the responsibility of helping a family get through the most trying time of their lives. As we speak, Derrick is helping four boys who just lost their father suddenly and didn’t have a chance to say good bye. He is also dealing with a wife who is not only trying to get past the murder of her husband but who has been bombarded with the fact he was murdered by a 20 year old woman with whom he was having an affair.
Derrick Mason gave the Ravens everything he had on the field. Much like his slain friend, Mason was a warrior who played through injuries that would have kept most NFL players off the field. He finished last season with an arm that was popping in and out of socket on a regular basis. I’m not saying Derrick handled this situation in the classiest way possible, but given the circumstances and his track record I hope that Ravens fans can cut him some slack. . Let’s try not to attack him while he faces circumstances that nobody ever wants to face