As always, Mason says what he means

Ravens wide receiver has opinions on everything, and no reservations about sharing them

November 13, 2010|By Kevin Van Valkenburg, The Baltimore Sun

In good times and bad, Derrick Mason has always been one of the more fascinating Baltimore Ravens players. He's opinionated, he's loud, he's sensitive, he's funny, and he's proud of what he's accomplished during his 14-year career in the NFL. Whether he's feuding with another team, trash talking with oppossing head coaches, firing back at Keyshawn Johnson for calling the Ravens' wide receivers bums, bristling at anyone's suggestion that he's lost a step, or making candid comments about his own team, Mason, 36, is never dull. This week, the Sun asked him to sit down for our weekly Q&A, a feature designed to help you know Ravens players better, and Mason touched on a number of different subjects.

QUESTION: A year ago, you weren't shy expressing your disappointment with the media when no one wrote about, or attended, Ray Lewis' "Thanksgiving To Remember" turkey giveaway. Since there are plans to do it again this year, and I think you had a valid point, let me ask you this: As a professional athlete, how important is it to do things that make you feel like a part of of this community?

ANSWER: I think it's huge. There are only a few fans that get the opportunity to connect with NFL Players, and it's usually those who are more fortunate than others. For guys in this locker room to go back and give their money — but I think more importantly their time — to those who are less fortunate, I think it means a lot. And that's why I think at certain times you get kind of peeved that the media doesn't pick up on it as much as they should. If something bad happens, they'll pick up on it right away. But if there is good going around the city of Baltimore or the state of Maryland, it's really hard for them to pick it up. It has to be a big event for them to go out and cover it, and I think that's wrong. If you're going to cover the bad of this ball club, cover the good. Nine times out of 10, it's the small things that people remember.

Q: Who is the most influential person in your life?

A: My children. I just try to conduct myself in a way where they'll be proud. They see me every day, and they can be proud that I'm their dad. I think more than anything, those two, my son (Derrick II, 7) and my daughter (Bailee My-Lin, 11), have been very important to me in my career. I want to go out there and I want to play hard and I want to play aggressive and I want to make sure that I'm doing the right things, because I know they're watching.

Q:Do you see different aspects of you in each of them?

A: I definitely do. My son, he's a little more reserved. He's kind of like me. He kind of plays in the background and listens. My daughter is a little more outspoken like her mom. A little bit more brash. She's very honest, but she's a sweet little girl. She's more out there as far as being vocal. She's a people person, and she's always out there making friends, so they both kind of pick up a little from each one of us.

Q: Are you able to keep up with the kind of music and culture they are into?

A: It's the funniest thing. I try to. I still listen to a lot of [modern stuff]. I'm kind of like that tweener parent where I grew up in that era where the old stuff was just phasing out, and the new stuff was kind of just coming in. So I think I'm kind of like a unique parent, because I still know a lot of stuff they listen to. But then, there is a lot of stuff that I don't. I was in the car a couple weeks ago listening to a song and I didn't know who it was. She said it to me and I just said 'I don't know who that is.' That's when I finally realized, 'Man, I'm getting a little bit older now.'

Q: So true or false: You can identify a Lady Gaga song.

A: Man. I know who she is, but I couldn't identify one of her songs. Well, there is maybe one I identify, the one she has with Beyonce. But that's the only one. Other than that, I can't really relate to a Lady Gaga song.

Q: What's your kind of music?

A: I'm across the board. Rap, R&B, Country, Gospel. I just like music. If it moves me, I'm into it. If I'm cleaning up, I listen to soulful music. If I'm out on the field, I need something more upbeat. If I'm in the car, it kind of depends. So I'm across the board.

Q: It's become fashionable to call NFL wide receivers divas, and plenty of people have said that about you in recent years. What do you think when you hear or read that someone has called you a diva?

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