Receiver Derrick Mason officially has joined the New York Jets on a two-year deal, nearly two weeks after being abruptly released by the Ravens. He addressed the situation in his first media session in the world’s biggest media market.
“It’s business,” Mason said in quotes distributed by the team. “It’s the business of football, and I understand it. Was I blindsided? Yeah, I was, and when you’re blindsided, yeah, you’re upset about it. It can be with any job. If you felt that you were going into a situation where you were on the cusp of something special, and you never thought that you would be released, or fired, or what not, you would be a little bit upset, but I had my moment. After that, I understood it’s the business of football. It happened to me before, and it happened to me again. It happens to everybody in this business, whether you’re great at your position or not. You’re going to get released. You just have to be able to deal with it as quickly as possible.”
Mason said being cut by the Ravens wasn’t a factor in his decision to join their biggest non-AFC North rival. “I believed both teams are very good,” Mason said. “I just felt that this was the place I needed to be when it was all said and done. I hold no grudges towards Baltimore. That city, those fans embraced me six years ago, embraced my family. Forever I will be appreciative of that. So I have nothing against Baltimore. It was just that this was the right place for me.”
Even though coach Rex Ryan couldn’t keep defensive end Shaun Ellis in town, Rex was able to seal the deal with Mason. “I felt like I was in college again,” Mason said, laughing. “When you have someone sitting across from you that understands and knows your work, and knows that you can play this game, and still play it at a high level, and respects that, that means a lot. That’s what Coach Rex basically echoed to me. ‘You still can play this game. I’ve seen tape of you last year. You still can play this game at a high level and you can help us.’ That’s all it took, was someone else believing that you could still play this game. So, like I said, why not come down here with the big fella and try to win a championship?”
Mason plans to start practicing tomorrow with the new-look receiving corps, which Mason declined to call an improvement over the 2010 edition of the team’s pass catchers.
“I am not going to say it’s an upgrade,” Mason said. “I think the experience is an upgrade, obviously. I have been at 15, [Plaxico Burress] has been at it I think over 10, close to 10, if not over 10 and [Santonio Holmes] has been at it a very long time as well so I think the experience part is but to sit here and say talent wise we are better is degrading to the guys that were here. . . . Upgrade as far as experience, yeah. But those guys were great with what they did last year. They made it to the AFC Championship last year. This year we are just trying to win two more games, the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. That’s all.”
Mason puts them in better position to do it. He comes from a team that had too many possession receivers to a team that needs one with Mason’s skills and savvy. There will be plenty of chances for Mason to catch passes, as Holmes draws double coverage — and if Plaxico can get his legs back quickly and command extra attention, too.
Even if the Ravens were simply hoping to get Mason back at a lower price, the unofficial explanation surely will be that they chose to cut ties one year too early instead of one year too late. And there’s a chance the maneuver came just in time for the Jets.
Either way, it’ll make the October 2 game between the two teams even more interesting, starting at 8:20 p.m. ET or so on NBC.