- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) | Back on the field Sunday three weeks after announcing his retirement, Baltimore Ravens receiver Derrick Mason kidded about getting the kind of reception that Terrell Owens received upon his arrival with the Buffalo Bills.

“T.O. went to the airport and got a band,” Mason said with a smile after his first training camp practice. “I can’t even get the Girl Scouts to come out.”

After announcing his retirement July 13, Mason acknowledged that family weighed heavily on his mind, as did the murder of close friend and former teammate Steve McNair.

“It impacted my decision on whether to continue to play or retire,” Mason said of McNair’s death. “When something like that happens out of the blue, it makes you think about certain things - where your life is headed and where your football career is headed. But there were a lot of other things that factored. I think all of those things bonded together that brought me to that one decision.”

Now the 35-year-old said he’s 100 percent committed to the Ravens as he enters the final year of a five-year, $20 million contract. Mason sought an extension during the offseason but said his contract status had no bearing on his decision to retire.

“When I made it, I was sincere about it,” Mason said. “It wasn’t a ploy or anything contractual. It was from the heart. … I don’t want that to be a carrot hanging over my head. People are going to say, ‘Well, he just came back for the contract.’ I didn’t get an extension. I’m coming back to play football and try to win a Super Bowl.”

Mason led the Ravens with 80 receptions and 1,037 yards receiving last season. His return bolsters a thin, inexperienced group at receiver.

Although Mason is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum and a damaged scapula, he appeared to be fine Sunday as he caught several passes from Joe Flacco.

“Derrick’s been one of the best receivers in the NFL - let alone the Ravens - for many years,” tight end Todd Heap said. “So having him out here brings a huge part to our offense. We can do so many more things with him than we can without him.”

Mason insisted he won’t change his mind about his return, but he wouldn’t make a commitment beyond this season.

“I’m just concentrating on this year, to be honest with you,” he said. “This season is very important to me and this team. I’m not going to look past this season. I’m going to enjoy every day I’m out here. I’m going to enjoy each game that we have - preseason and regular season.”

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