Minutes after the Ravens' 15-6 loss to Indianapolis in the AFC divisional playoffs at M&T; Bank Stadium yesterday, Mason expressed his frustration about his role in the Ravens offense, saying he felt neglected and underutilized.
"It has been frustrating for me from the standpoint that you work so hard in the offseason to try to put yourself in a position physically to go 16 games. But when you go into the season, you just don't feel appreciated," Mason said in a quiet yet firm voice. "You don't feel appreciated. You just don't, and that's the way I feel. Whether you say it's selfish or not, anybody that's worked in a work force wants to feel appreciated at some point in time, and I just didn't feel appreciated at all the whole season. That's what it boils down to."
Mason's comments weren't the first time he had complained about his role. The 10-year veteran had griped about his involvement in the team's passing attack in the days leading up to the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.
In that game, quarterback Steve McNair targeted his first six passes to Mason, seeming to mollify the wide receiver at the time.
But Mason caught just two passes for 16 yards yesterday, finishing fourth in receptions and yards behind wide receiver Mark Clayton (six receptions for 73 yards), tight end Todd Heap (three for 28) and running back Jamal Lewis (three for 24).
Mason, who wrapped up the regular season ranking second in receptions to Heap and third in receiving yards to Clayton and Heap, appeared to be irritated that the emergence of Clayton and rookie Demetrius Williams came at his expense.
"I have to take my hat off to Mark having a great season. Demetrius is really coming on and having a great season," Mason said. "I guess some things had to be taken away in order for those guys to have very productive seasons, and that's what happened. But as a worker, you must feel appreciated in order to go out there and play at maximum condition or whatnot. At times, I just didn't feel like they considered me a playmaker. That's basically what it boiled down to, and today was the same way. I felt the same way. I felt frustrated."
However, Mason, who still has three years left on a five-year deal that is expected to pay out $20 million at the end of the contract, said he does not anticipate leaving the Ravens for another team.
"I'm going to condition myself and maximize my potential in the offseason so that I can come back and play at a high level," he said. "And hopefully, that appreciation will come. I think this is a great organization. I would love to come back and play for them. But if they feel like they have to make some changes, so be it."