WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Derrick Mason was looking around for a marching band to mark his much-anticipated return to the Baltimore Ravens.
Back on the field three weeks after announcing his retirement, Mason kiddingly spoke about receiving the kind of reception that wide receiver Terrell Owens did upon his arrival with the Buffalo Bills.
"T.O. went to the airport and got a band," Mason said with a smile Sunday morning after his first training camp practice. "I can't even get the Girl Scouts to come out."
After announcing his retirement July 13, Mason acknowledged that family weighed heavily on his mind, as did the murder of close friend and former teammate Steve McNair.
"It impacted my decision on whether to continue to play or retire," Mason said of McNair's death. "When something like that happens out of the blue, it makes you think about certain things where your life is headed and where your football career is headed.
"But there were a lot of other things that factored. I think all of those things bonded together that brought me to that one decision."
Now Mason, 35, says he's 100 percent committed to the Ravens as he enters the final year of a five-year, $20 million contract. Mason was seeking an extension during the offseason, but he said his contract status had no bearing on his decision to retire.
"When I made it, I was sincere about it," Mason said. "It wasn't a ploy or anything contractual. It was from the heart. ... I don't want that to be a carrot hanging over my head. People are going to say, 'Well, he just came back for the contract.' I didn't get an extension. I'm coming back to play football and try to win a Super Bowl."
Mason led the Ravens with 80 receptions and 1,037 receiving yards last season. His return bolsters Baltimore's thin, inexperienced depth chart at receiver.
Although Mason is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum and a damaged scapula, he appeared to be fine Sunday as he caught several passes from quarterback Joe Flacco, much to the approval of fans and teammates alike.
"Derrick's been one of the best receivers in the NFL, let alone the Ravens, for many years," tight end Todd Heap said. "So having him out here brings a huge part to our offense. We can do so many more things with him than we can without him. It's great to have him out here."
Mason insists he won't change his mind about his return, but he won't make a commitment to the team beyond this season.
"I'm just concentrating on this year, to be honest with you," Mason said. "This season is very important to me and this team. I'm not going to look past this season. I'm going to enjoy every day I'm out here. I'm going to enjoy each game that we have, preseason and regular season."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press