The Story of Derrick Mason: The Forgotten One of the NFL

Bleacher Report Senior Writer INovember 17, 2008

Who here thinks Derrick Mason is a good wide receiver? Who here thinks Derrick Mason gets the credit he deserves? Who here has seen Derrick Mason on ESPN other than hear  the words "Oh yeah, nice TD catch by Derrick Mason."

It all started on January 17, 1974 in Detroit, Michigan. He was raised well and had a love for football from the very beginning. In 1988, he played for Mumford High in Detroit. He was a wide receiver—and a good one.

He earned first-team All-Public School League, All-State and Blue Chip list honors from Detroit News as a senior for Mumford. He caught 70 passes for 1243 yards that year, a record that wasn't surpassed before—or since. In the Michigan High School All Star Game, he started at wide receiver.

Because of his solid play in high school, he earned a scholarship to play for the Spartans of Michigan State University. There, he majored in communications. Communications didn't take him anywhere in life, though. Football did. He set a school record by putting together 2,384 kick return yards. As a wide receiver, he caught eight touchdowns.

He married his college girlfriend, Marci on June 6, 1997, the same year he was drafted by the Tennessee Oilers. Despite being a receiver to be reckoned with now, Mason came up as a kick returner and special teams guy.

In his first three seasons, he had just 608 receiving yards and three touchdowns. However, Mason had 2663 yards in special teams, including 1119 in 1999. In 2000, his career changed—for the better.

The Titans, with Steve McNair under center and Eddie George in the backfield, converted Mason to a wide receiver. It was a move they wouldn't soon regret. They would later regret a move they made with Mason involving the Baltimore Ravens.

That year, he caught 63 passes for 895 yards and scored five touchdowns. The Titans won 13 and lost 3. He also had 662 punt return yards (which led the NFL) and returned 41 kicks for 1132 yards (his 27 YPR led the league). He had 2,659 all-purpose yards, an all-time record.

The next year, he turned into a huge threat as a receiver, catching 73 passes for 1128 yards and nine touchdowns. He gained over 2000 yards, the first Titan to ever have over 2,000 all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons.

In 2002, 2003 and 2004, Mason led the team in receiving and had 1,000 yard seasons each campaign with totals of 1303, 1168 and 1073.

Enter Ozzie Newsome. Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens General Manager, knew the team desperately needed a wide receiver. The Titans foolishly let him go and Baltimore picked him up. He has been the best Ravens pass catcher since Shannon Sharpe, the old tight end.

In 2006, Mason caught 68 passes for 750 yards and two touchdowns—not the greatest, I know. Last year, he caught 103 passes for 1,087 yards and five touchdowns. That's incredible considering the Ravens never knew who their quarterback would be the next week.

This year, he has 53 catches for 680 yards and two touchdowns. In a fantastic—and forgotten—career, he has 763 catches for 9704 yards and 49 touchdowns. It's likely he'll reach the 10,000 yard milestone this year.

Mason is providing a veteran presence for the Ravens on the offensive side, which would be absent this year since Jonathan Ogden retired.