Mason stands by remarks

Almost 24 hours of distance from the rawness of Saturday's 15-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC divisional round did little to change Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason's dismay over his involvement in the team's offense.

Mason, who aired his disappointment minutes after the game with what he called "being underappreciated," stood his ground and did not back down from those remarks while cleaning out his locker at the team's training facility in Owings Mills yesterday.


"I'm not going to deviate from anything that I said yesterday. I'm not because that's how I felt, and I still feel the same way today and I'm going to feel the same way until," Mason said, not finishing the thought. "But I just never thought that I was considered a guy that was capable of going out there and making plays. All that I've done prior to this season, I thought it warranted that, at least. And I just didn't feel for 16 games that I was given that opportunity."

Mason, who has three years remaining on a five-year deal that is expected to pay out $20 million at contract's end, is the team's highest-paid wide receiver.


After hauling in 86 passes for 1,073 yards to lead the Ravens in receiving in his first season with the team in 2005, Mason pulled in 68 receptions for 750 yards this season.

The reception total was his lowest since collecting 63 in 2000, and the receiving yards were his fewest since compiling 333 yards in 1998.

While acknowledging that the emergence of receivers Mark Clayton and rookie Demetrius Williams and the presence of tight ends Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox mean that quarterback Steve McNair will spread the wealth, Mason said there were times when his input was either ignored or parlayed into opportunities for other teammates.

"I've been in this game long enough that if I come back to the sidelines and say, 'Well, see this, see this and see this,' I think there should be some type of sense of, 'OK, this guy does know what he's talking about. He's been in this league long enough, he's out there on the field and is playing' and not just disregard what I say," he said. "I just felt like a lot of times, that's what happened. I would say something and maybe it was the tone and manner I said it in. But I just felt that at times when I came back and said something, it fell on deaf ears or it was, 'OK, we'll do this, but we'll go to the other side or do something else with somebody else.'"

Mason said he voiced his displeasure to wide receivers coach Mike Johnson, but has not yet talked to head coach Brian Billick, who is also the team's offensive coordinator.

Mason also brushed aside the notion that his comments border on seeming selfish.

"Until you're in this position, you can't say whether I'm selfish or not," he said. "There's a lot of people in the workplace that feel they're underappreciated, but they don't have a voice to say anything. It just so happens I have a voice and I'm going to use it, good or bad."

For all of his complaints, however, Mason said he has no plans to seek a trade nor could he envision being shipped away.


"Who would want to be without a job or who would want to -- this quickly -- go to another team?" he asked rhetorically. "Some things just have to be addressed. You have to really sit back and see what your worth is to a team, and I guess the team has to see what your worth is to them. And then they'll make a decision whether to keep you or not, but my plans are to be back here in this locker room next year and hopefully make another run to a Super Bowl."

Window closing?

With 11 veterans over the age of 30 -- eight of them starters -- quarterback Steve McNair, who will turn 34 on Feb. 14, acknowledged that time may not be on their side.

"It's very tough," he said. "When you're young, you have a lot more years to go. When you're in your 12th year and the next year is my 13th year, the window of opportunity is just closing and closing fast."

Added free safety Ed Reed: "All of our opportunities are limited because we don't know where we're going to be months from now. Like I said, we've got to take it in stride. Pray to God we're going to be in the same position next year and, hopefully, we'll come out on top."

No excuses


Several Ravens declined to cite having the bye week before the AFC divisional round as a reason for the team's loss Saturday.

"The bye week has nothing to do with that," Mason said. "You guys have seen what we've done when we've had bye weeks. We came out and played very, very well. The bye week had nothing to do with the way we played. We just laid an egg basically."

Before Saturday, the Ravens had followed an Oct. 22 bye and a mini-break after a Thursday night loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 30 with convincing victories over the New Orleans Saints (35-22) on Oct. 29 and the Kansas City Chiefs (20-10) on Dec. 10.

"What more could we ask for?" cornerback Samari Rolle said. "We had the home-field advantage, we're 13-3, and thought we were ready, but it didn't turn out that way."