It’s been a while since we heard from Tre Mason.
The former Los Angeles Rams running back was officially dropped by the team in March with the start of the new league year following a saga of off-field events. It was those off-field events that prompted Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne to travel down to southern Florida to speak with Auburn’s single-season rushing yards record holder in a great piece out today.
The instinctual draw is to hear Mason’s recounting of his turbulent last calendar year: the arrest in January, his mother’s focus on concussions as the cause of his erratic behavior, going “missing” for nearly a week, and the original marijuana arrest that kicked off the whole shebang. Mason’s 2016 (and early 2017) stands out more than his on-field NFL career, but he remains neither contrite nor dedicated to explaining much of it:
“How would they call it nowadays? Fake news. ‘Oh, we just hope he’s OK.’ You come to Florida and find out,” Mason says. “Fly your ass down. Sit next to me right on this beach, eat some food and you’ll see. You tell me. I’m not going to sugarcoat for nobody. If you’re really worried about me, fly your ass down.”
That ATV joyride? “In South Florida. Whoops. My bad. I’ve been riding ATVs and dirt bikes all my life. Since fifth grade. It’s not like I’m harming anybody.”
The White House and al-Qaida comments? He brushes that off as “he say, she say,” before asking, “Who wrote this?” Told that cops did in a police report, he says that “something was up,” that somebody was “masterminding” a plan.
So Mason never said it? “I don’t know. I’m not going to say.”
He does try to clear the air on his mom’s comments that went viral. Mason repeats that he never, not once, suffered a concussion. He swats away the notion that hits to the head changed him. An undying love for Mom bursts out of him. They’re still very close. He describes Tina Mason’s reaction simply as motherly instinct.
It irks Mason that four or five incidents defined him, and that those four or five incidents are what fed concern about his mental well-being. When asked if mental health was a struggle for him as it is for millions of Americans. Mason is clearly looking to keep his past in the past. “I don’t know,” he says. “I just … no comment.” He then reiterates that he’s in a great place right now.
On the Rams, Mason is much less ambiguous:
Football is almost always ripped away from players. Rarely does anyone choose to stay home when practice begins. But that’s precisely what Mason did before last season. The “why” is not simple or straightforward. He’s blisteringly honest about one reason (the Rams) and elusive on others (the off-field trouble).
Before venting, Mason spells it out: “J-O-B.” He knows playing running back in the NFL is work. But he also felt insulted. Betrayed, even. After he rushed for 765 yards and four scores in 12 games as a rookie, the Rams drafted Todd Gurley in 2015, and Mason was marginalized. Coaches, he said, would promise “X” number of carries, and then he’d spend practically all of Sunday standing idly on the sideline. He had three or fewer carries in seven games.
“What are you trying to do? If you want to win a championship, let me know. I don’t have time for these games. This bullshit. … I’ve had enough people lie to me in my life. I ain’t got time for no more.”
He speaks so passionately, so convincingly, that you want to believe the Rams were 100 percent in the wrong in tossing Mason aside. His refusal to accept such a piecemeal role feels principled.
Of course, you could also believe Mason quit.
Mason calls the Rams a “clown show” more than once.
I recommend reading the whole thing as it provides a great look at Mason’s perspective trying to land with a team as training camps are opening around the NFL. It’s a bizarre spot for the Rams’ third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He gained 765 yards in his rookie season throughout 12 games while starting 9 of them. Now less than three years on, he can’t find a job.
Life comes at you quick.
For Mason, he’s just seeking a chance to prove he’s quicker.