As it turns out, receiver Derrick Mason almost retired neither as a Raven nor as a Titan. In an alternate NFL universe, Mason would have retired as a Patriot.
Mason said during his Monday retirement press conference that he nearly signed with New England in 2005, the year he made the jump from Tennessee to Baltimore.
“It was close,” Mason said, via John Eisenberg of CSNBaltimore.com. “I went up there [to New England] and talked to everyone.”
In the end, the tie was broken by something intangible. “There was just something about this place,” Mason said.
Seven years later, the tiebreaker between retiring with the Ravens (with whom he spent six seasons) or the Titans (with whom he spent eight) came from the way the Ravens handled Mason’s exit after the 2010 season, bringing Mason in to explain why they wouldn’t be bringing him back.
“They had enough respect for me to do that,” Mason said. “Once you have been through that and see that, the decision [to retire with a team] is easy. Tennessee is a good place, a great place, and they gave me a chance coming [out of college] which I will always appreciate. But my heart was here.”
Mason finished his career by signing with the Jets, who then traded him to the Texans. Who then cut him.
But 2011 should be nothing more than a footnote to a great career for a hard-nosed football player who tough, consistent, and highly productive for two different franchises, either of which could use one or two more guys like him now.