GRIDIRON GRANDPA: 70-year-old plays semi-pro football with his son
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Septuagenarian, or in plain English, a 70-year-old person.
Most people, when they hit 70, are ready to ride off into the sunset. For Gary Mason, however, age appears to be just a number. He's still battling on the gridiron, while working a full-time job as a repo man.
When asked about the time he started to play football, Mason had a rather amusing answer.
"1959, B.C.!" replied Mason. It's perhaps obvious, but Mason began playing football almost six decades ago. Football appears to be a family affair. Mason's son, Matt, is also involved in football. Both played for the Sun Devil football program.
"He's been around since leather helmets and one-bar face masks," said Matt.
Nowadays, both Gary and Matt play in the semi-pro Phoenix Outlaws football team.
"On the first time it happened years ago, I teared up pretty good," said Gary, recounting the time he was on the line, and sees his son as he looked over. "It was an emotional experience."
Gary may not have the biggest impact on the game, he does have a major effect on his team and teammates, as he leads by example.
"Pretty much, he motivates everybody -- with age, he's still out here, and let everybody else know that, 'hey look, I'm out here at 70 years old, how come you're not?'" said Ricco Verner, a Defensive End for the Outlaws.
"Guys get tired, and they look at him, he's still out there and doing it, at 70 years old, that's pretty impressive, so guys aren't quite so tired anymore," said John Polchin, the Outlaws' head coach.
Guys on the team even gave Gary his own nickname: the OG (Original Gangster) of the Outlaws. The meaning, however, at lost at first on Gary.
"I thought it was 'Old Guy', until a guy that I went to high school with told me," said Gary.
Be it OG (Original Gangster) or OG (Old Guy), one thing is certain, Gary is young at heart.
"There was a line from country song that says, 'I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was'," said Gary, quoting the song As Good As I Once Was by Toby Keith. "That's my life story."
Passion, however, can sometimes be tempered by reality. Gary is dealing with serious knee injuries he suffered, during the Vietnam Conflict.
"It's been blown/unblown for years," said Gary. "The VA has agreed to replace my knee, but I decided to stop this craziness."
Gary may be the "ripe stuff", but he still has one goal. He has a message for the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
"If you're listening, one play," said Gary. "in practice, not in the season. Just one play. That's all I want, just one play."
If that one play with the Cardinals doesn't materialize, Gary said he'll settle for a chance to catch King Crab, on the show "Deadliest Catch".