Mason Tobeck rejects the question: Who has the better hands, you or your father (former Washington State and NFL center Robbie Tobeck)?
“He can’t catch,” says Mason, a junior tight end and linebacker at Cascade Christian High. “We play catch in the yard. I know firsthand.”
Robbie isn’t shaken. He directs his son to the time in 1996 when Robbie caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Hebert in the Atlanta Falcons’ 7-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“One catch,” Mason says.
“Two catches and a 7-yard career average,” Robbie rebuts. “He can have a three-touchdown game or whatever, but I got one in the NFL.”
Getting put in your place is easy for the son of an ex-NFL player.
Mason is reminded of it daily. If not from friends or acquaintances asking about Rob’s two trips to the Super Bowl (1999 Falcons and 2005 Seattle Seahawks) or his Pro Bowl season (2005), then it’s through an unambiguous reminder of the last name on his student identification card
Mason wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s Robbie Tobeck’s biggest fan.
Mason remembers wearing a helmet while watching his dad play on TV for the Seahawks. He recalls re-enacting the plays.
“I think he ran into the TV a couple times,” Robbie recalled.
Mason enjoyed other perks, too. Former Seattle linemen Steve Hutchinson and Chris Gray would come over for dinner. Jack Thompson, the former QB called the “Throwin’ Samoan” by WSU fans, is known to him as Uncle Jack.
“For some reason, after games if he saw Brock Huard in the family area, he would run up and punch Brock as hard as he could. Every time,” Robbie said. “I don’t know if it was a Cougar-Husky thing or what, but he would just go right after Brock.”
But now Mason is taking the Tobeck name into his own hands. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound tight end and linebacker for Cascade Christian is coming off a first-team All-Nisqually League selection as a sophomore last year. Mason is known by coaches and peers as possessing an almost tireless work ethic.
“I worried at first that maybe he put a little bit too much pressure on himself just because of his dad,” said Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis. “Maybe he did that when he was younger, but I think it’s bred into him now and it’s part of his fabric. He knows he has to work hard.”
Mason’s talent isn’t because of his last name.
Both Davis and Robbie Tobeck say Mason wasn’t the most coordinated of kids when he was younger. But through dedication, he’s now one of the top athletes in the league. He bench presses 295 pounds, and squats 500.
“He’s not by any means a natural athlete,” Davis said. “He’s had to work for everything he’s got.”
Mason has been in the Cascade Christian pipeline since elementary school. Davis and offensive coordinator Brian Flattum were giddy to learn the offspring of a Seahawks lineman would someday play for them.
“When I first realized Mason was in our program, I played center at (Pacific Lutheran University) so I know some line stuff, but I was like ‘Crap, this guy is the deal,’” Flattum said. “It’s been really fun having Mason in the program because he is just one of those guys who is an absolute football junkie.”
Robbie hasn’t used his NFL influence to step on any toes at Cascade Christian. He says he leaves all the coaching on the field to Mason’s coaches. But he admits doing plenty at home. And Robbie’s favorite vantage point at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner is the top right corner of the grandstands, where he gets better angles to watch Mason play.
“I know I would not be the same football player I am now if I didn’t have my dad,” Mason says. “I have a dad who knows pretty much whatever there is to know about football.”