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Calling Mason's bluff

Derrick Mason retiring?

I'll believe it when I see it. I'll believe it when Mason is sitting behind a microphone at the Ravens' complex in Owings Mills, counting the reasons he doesn't want to catch footballs from Joe Flacco anymore. I'll believe it when the Ravens take the field at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 13 in the season opener, and somebody else is wearing Mason's 85.

Until then, I don't believe it.

Now, maybe Mason misses all of training camp. Maybe he doesn't get his normal Westminster reps with Flacco like last year. But whenever he shows up, he'll be ready to go and he'll be reliable as ever.

There's a lot to ponder in his statement on jocklife.com. Mason has been campaigning for a new contract almost since the end of last season. He may well deserve it, given what he means to the team and the offense. But it's clear the Ravens aren't going to give him what he wants.

OK, so he and his agent take their best shot: threaten retirement two weeks before camp begins. Nobody knows if Demetrius Williams' ankle will hold up. No one can be certain Mark Clayton can be a No. 1 receiver. You can be certain, however, that neither Anquan Bolden nor Plaxico Burress will show up here.

Mason appears to hold the hammer. But appearances are often deceiving. If he was considering retirement, why did he go through with the shoulder surgery he had in the offseason? He admitted he wanted to avoid that. Why did he announce this retirement on a Web site the casual fan probably doesn't know, instead of in front of an ESPN camera? If he was really serious about retiring, he'd do it right, sit in front of the insignias of the Ravens' sponsors and give a farewell speech.

Then there was the part about enthusiasm. Mason said he doesn't have it for working out now. I thought that was pretty humorous. Mason is enthusiastic about everything in life, not just football. And he's never not been enthusiastic about football. He's a very good player, a prideful man, and a visible man in the community on his days off. Not enthusiastic? That's like saying the sky's not blue.

Mason left enough doors open in his statement that even I feel the draft, and I'm not talking about the NFL's April lottery.

No, the more Mason and his agent, Lamont Smith, nitpick about the little things that have been said and written since his announcement, the more it seems to be about the money. These things are almost always about money. At 35, Mason's football clock is ticking. He's never been more important to a team. He knows it.

Walk away now when there are more passes to catch and another shot at the elusive Super Bowl trophy? I'll believe that if, on Jan. 3 when the Ravens close the regular season in Oakland, Mason is a distant memory.

Comments

I can appreciate the cynicism here, and I admit that it makes a lot of sense. But, what about the angle that he just lost a good friend in a pretty tragic and senseless manner last week. That has to be having an effect on him, and I'm inclined to give him the benefit of a doubt. I hope he proves you wrong, and this doesn't turn into a pissing match over money. I will say that his agent seems very sketchy, and if he's using Mason's emotional state to try to maximize his own cash flow, then he deserves an especially warm spot in the afterlife.

And, did you forget to mention that his agent is a principal in the website he used for his "leaked' announcement ??

Good call, Ken; I'd call his bluff

I cant say that Mason is not truthful when he says he doesn't have enthusiasm for working out now. After losing a close friend I don't blame him. But if this is a ploy for a new contract extension which we all know he has wanted since last season ended then his timing is wrong. To do this in the wake of the McNair murder only soils his stand up reputation.

On the other hand I don't think it should ever have come to this. Just on his performance last year alone he should have gotten an extension. Nobody played with more heart in the NFL last year. I know the NFL is a business and signing Mason to a contract extension may not be the best business practice but he is a true Raven and deserves a little loyalty.

The timing is all wrong here and I'm afraid he might have tarnished his reputation.

I have lost alot of respect for Derrick Mason. I can't believe he is pulling off such a WEASEL move. The only reason he is "retiring", is because he wants to skip training camp obviously. All along he was saying how he wouldn't be ready for training camp, but would be ready for week 1, BUT, Harbaugh said that Mason should be good for most if not all of training camp.
Mason is also "retiring" because he didn't get his contract extension. I say we should forget about Mason, and just go and sign Matt Jones. Matt Jones' ceiling is obviously higher than Mason's and could be a starter for us for a long time, while Mason is only good for one more year.
Mason is actually pretty stupid doing this, if the Ravens don't play his little game, Mason is going to miss out on his final chance to get a Superbowl ring. I hope we win it this year so Mason has to kick himself in the a** for the rest of his life. WEASEL move Mason. Derrick "Weasel" Mason.

I say call his bluff also but in a different way(if possible). Everyone that has ever had a job knows that they are expendable and can be replaced at anytime. But there are a few times (and I mean a few) where the employee has the upper hand over the employer. During his "retirement" speech to jocklife he backhandidly reads off the rest of the WR group saying that he isnt leaving us high and dry and that we have alot of good WR's. Mason knows without him our already thin WR group would be even thinner. Advantage Mason.

This is where the "if possible" comes in. With him "retiring" with the money we save can we now trade for a WR like revisit the Boldin talks? I only say that if it doesnt screw up us signing Ngata and Suggs and any other future pieces of the puzzle. If that is the case then the Ravens should say thanks and its been fun, then look for a WR in a trade. Total backfire for Mason. He doesnt get a new contract AND the Ravens upgrade at WR.

No disrespect Ken but I don't think you get it. I don't believe this has anything to do with the Ravens or money and everything to do with the fact that one of Mason's best friends was murdered. He and McNair were very tight as I'm sure you know. At McNair's memorial Mason did everything except promise McNair's kids he'd be their surrogate father. The man is hurting and the entire event has clearly placed football in a new perspective for him. Will he change his mind? I hope so. But if he doesn't the best thing we can do is respect his decision and move on. I gotta say I'm surprised you didn't mention the proximity of McNair's death to Mason's announcement in your article.

I think you're probably right, Ken. This is all just so strange. Mason seems like a man of very high character, and to handle this thing the way he is makes no sense at all!!! If this turns out to be a childish plot to try and squeeze more money out of the RAVENS, I will have lost all respect for Mason. I don't believe he's retiring for sure at this point, but if he does carry thru with it and THIS is the way he's handling it --- then good riddance to the moron!!

This is BS. Let him go. Everybody is replaceable. Joe Flacco will throw those passes to somebody. They may not have #85 on their jersey, but they may be able to outrun their defender after they catch it.

Ken,

I think you're right on the money. I'm currently reading a book on Game Theory ("Games People Play") and this is a real life example of how Mason and his agent are trying to "game" the Ravens.

Mason is calling the Ravens bluff; the Ravens are trying to figure out if it's real. In game theory, this is called "signaling and screening." (I won't go into any more details)

Mason has had a rough off season. The shoulder surgery, the slow healing, and now Steve McNair's death. Let's give him a little space.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I'll be very surprised if Mason isn't on the field against the Chiefs in the season opener.

Leave him alone. He was one of the few bright spots last year. He played hurt. He is my number 1 player. I respect him and whatever he chooses is fine, but I will miss him always. God Bless in what ever you decide to do.

This is cynicism at its worst.

The man is contemplating life after the tragic loss of his good friend. This column sucks, Schmuck got it right!

the last time an ex-Titan retired right before training camp, we ended up with a franchise-type player in Joe Flacco. Let's give it some time, see what Ozzie has up his sleeve and go from there. Mason may yet be back...

Please stop it already with the he just lost his good friend and can't go on anymore...Who here hasn't lost a loved one;brother,sister, parent, teammate,school friend, etc. and felt lost and miserable. That's right, we all have. How many of you went to your job the next day and retired. That's right, none of you...This is nothing more than a money grab and anyone who thinks otherwise is foolish. All these guys want to get paid,period,and unfortunatly for Mason, a possession receiver at the tail end of his career who rarely catches balls longer than 15 yards is not a priority right know. Everyone knows the ravens slot players in order of importance and contract status before they get their attention from the team, it's always been that way. Don't believe any of this nonsense about him retiring until he files his papers with the league, which I will bet you won't happen anytime soon...

If Suggs is worth 63M then Mase is worth twice that for what he brings to the table. I hate to think what it will be like this year if he goes and they don't bring in Marshall or Boldin.

At Raven Ruth: ONE OF THE FEW BRIGHT SPOTS LAST YEAR???!!! A team with a rookie quarterback and 5-11 record the season before gets WITHIN A GAME OF THE SUPERBOWL and you have the nerve to use a phrase like ONE OF THE FEW BRIGHT SPOTS LAST YEAR???!!!

As for Mason, I definitely think the McNair situation spurred him one way or another. But it also came so quick that I'm pretty sure he'll rethink it in time.

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