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Derrick Mason played in Tennessee for the majority of his career. He was drafted by the Oilers and played in a Super Bowl with the Titans.
But deep down, he views himself as a Raven.
That’s why, with the wide receiver preparing for retirement, he would like to go out in purple and black.
Mason reached out to Ravens team officials to express his desire, and Baltimore is listening. Mason first has to officially retire by filing his paperwork with the league office.
“Derrick has not only been a favorite of ours at the Ravens, but he’s clearly one of the most popular players to our fans in our history,” said Ravens Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne. “It’s so flattering that he wants to retire as a Raven.”
After eight years and two Pro Bowls in Tennessee, Mason played six seasons in Baltimore from 2005 to 2010. He left as the franchise’s all-time receptions (471) and receiving yards (5,777) leader.
Mason never missed a game, playing through countless injuries, and posted seasons of more than 1,000 receiving yards in four of his six years. He scored 29 regular-season touchdowns.
“Tennessee gave me an opportunity – and I will always be grateful for that – to actually live out one of my dreams and play this game and play at a high level,” Mason told The Baltimore Sun.
“But once I got to Baltimore, that’s when I really started to grow as a player, that’s when I really started to understand what this game was about, why I was playing it. That’s why I want to retire as a Raven, because I had some great, great memories there and I met a lot of great people. That’s my football family.”
Perhaps more than the stats, Mason was a leader on the offense and team as a whole. Often vocal, Mason helped quarterback Joe Flacco’s transition into becoming a rookie starter and led the team’s wide receiver corps.
He was also very active in the Baltimore community, especially known for his karaoke.
The Ravens released Mason, who was then 36 years old, after the 2010 season, which set off a turbulent year for the veteran. He signed with the New York Jets, playing in just five games before leaving. He then landed with the Houston Texans for seven games.
“It was disappointing because I felt in my heart that after signing with the Ravens in 2005, that that would be my last stop,” Mason told The Sun. “Right after the lockout ended and they released me, I was a little bit disappointed. I kind of took it personal, and I shouldn’t have.”
Mason actually views his release from Baltimore as a positive. Otherwise, he might still be trying to hang on.
“I had to sit down and humble myself and really prepare for life after football. Honestly, looking back on it now, I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me,” said Mason, who now wants to get into TV broadcasting.
“The Ravens are always going to contend for a Super Bowl, and it would have been very difficult for me to leave the game because I would have thought that window was still open and I would want to be part of that. I would want to be part of that Ravens team that actually won the Super Bowl. … But I think it happened the way it was supposed to.”