NCO 'Wild' about 20-year football career

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Gross
  • 3rd Wing Public Affairs
Right foot comes up to signal motion; wide receiver runs full speed toward the line of scrimmage. He calls hike, and calmly drops back into the pocket. He spots some pressure out of his peripheral with rushers coming in strong and fast from the left. So, he quickly scrambles to the right. He pump fakes to the left, causing his defenders to jump in the air, which buys him some time to spot his receiver in the back corner of the end zone. Running to his right, he takes a couple steps forward, snaps his arm back and bullets the ball to the back of the end zone, to earn one of his touchdowns of the season.

Staff Sgt. Earl Mason, non-commissioned officer in charge of emergency management of logistics for the 3rd Civil Engineer Squadron, isn't just another Airman here. Mason, a 27-year-old from Summerville, Ala., is a quarterback for the Alaska Wild, intense football league team.

"It's like a religion down there," Mason said about playing football while growing up in Alabama.

Mason has been playing football at the quarterback position for the past 20 years. He's gone from pee-wee football to high school to college to semi-pro to his current position on the football team.

After high school Mason received a football scholarship from Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla., where he played for two years while taking general classes. Soon after, Mason came to a conclusion that he wanted to join the Air Force. While assigned at Travis AFB , Calif., for his first three years in the Air Force, Mason played for a semi-pro team called the North Bay Rattlers.

Mason heard about the Wild when he arrived here two years ago, but missed tryouts both times. However, Mason did get a chance to try out for this year's team but failed to be one of the six that were selected out of 100. Although, he was picked up on the team's flag football developmental league. After a few weeks there, the team saw he had the potential to play at the next level and offered him a one-year contract.

After signing the contract Mason realized the transition he would have to go through. He said that the game is a lot faster going from outdoors to indoors and it was different going from an 11-man offense to an eight.

Not only does Mason have to adapt to the new adjustments, he has to know not just what he is doing but everybody on the field. Mason said, "Being a quarterback you not only have to be a leader, you have to be able to help your other guys out; tell them what they need to do if they don't know. You need to know what everybody on the field is doing. That's not only on your side of the ball, that's including the defense too."

Not long after signing a contract and trying to adjust, Mason would be forced out of the next few games because of a freak accident that happened to him in only his second start for the Wild. During his second game Mason stepped back into the pocket, a linebacker came rushing through the offensive line and just as Mason released the ball his hand got snagged on the helmet of the defender and tore a cut open that required nine stitches.

Several weeks later, Mason returned to practice and played his first return game May 4 when the Wild lost 72 to 31 against the Bloomington Extreme.

However, being out for those several weeks didn't affect Mason's leadership role. "All he is, is a leader. Out here some guys see him as a role model," said Abe Hernandez, the general manager for the Wild. "I've known Earl for a while now, good calm guy, good leader, and I'm real impressed with (him),"

Now that Mason is at a professional level he said, "Follow your dreams, and don't ever give up on them."

After reaching this stage in his career, Mason doesn't look to go any further he said, "I'm out there to have fun, being a man playing a kid's game."