OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason would rank Peyton Manning as the top player in the NFL.
"I think if I’m ranking right now who’s a top player like I said I think it’s Peyton Manning," Mason told 105.7 The Fan. "Hands down it is Peyton Manning. If you look at our team they [NFL Network] would rank Ray Lewis ahead of Ed Reed just because of the body of work he has put together over the last 15 years. Ed does make a strong case to be ranked a little higher, but if I’m looking at it I’m looking at the body of work and I believe they [NFL Network] will rank Ray Lewis ahead of Ed Reed.
"Now if it goes the other way I wouldn’t be surprised. I wouldn’t fight it either way, but I just think if you are looking at guys around the league, that respect factor, not to say they don’t need to have that respect factor for Ed, but I think the longevity and the body of work over the course of 15 years that Ray has put together. I think they will rank him higher."
Mason acknowledged that the NFL Network top 100 list compiled by the players isn’t exactly an in-depth exercise.
"I don’t think I ranked all 100 players," he said. "I think I ranked maybe 20 guys and that was it because I wasn’t sitting down there and ranking 100 guys. I don’t even know all 100 guys to sit down and rank them, so I ranked maybe 20 of them. When you look at the rankings and you look at the importance of a player is this: not the type of season that he had, one seasons or two seasons that he had, it’s what player do I kick off a team and it changes that team dramatically?
"I only know one player and it’s Peyton Manning. You take Tom Brady off New England they showed that they can go 11-5. Now you take Peyton Manning off the Colts I don’t know where that teams goes offensively. Another guy I look at and say it changes the scope of what they do is a guy like Ed Reed. You take Ed Reed off of our defense not to say I don’t think the defense would be good, we’re good, because we have good players, but if you take him off the back end it changes us somewhat and it showed last year. Once you insert him [Ed Reed] we’re back to…quarterbacks are scared to throw the ball deep down the field, so when you looking at ranking guys you rank them like that. You don’t want to just rank them because they had a good season or a one-thousand yard season. You rank them as if I took this player off this team or away from this side of the ball what does it do for that team? Do they get better? Do they get worse? The only person I know, two people really, is Peyton Manning and Ed Reed.
Mason said the best cornerback he’s faced is Jets corner Darrelle Revis over Nnamdi Asomugha and Charles Woodson.
"I think it would be Darrelle Revis, Darrelle Revis right now," Mason said. "Darrelle Revis is just one of those guys that he can play the run, he can play the pass, he does just about everything on the field. He’s shown if he needs to mix it up he can mix it up. For me if I’m picking a corner it would probably be Darrelle Revis."
Mason insisted that the owners and players are serious about hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement.
"I think there is a sense of urgency," Mason said. "I think they have been in the room for hours-and-hours trying to work a deal out, but who’s going to be in a room seven days? You know 24 hours, 7 days a week? No one is going to be in the room trying to work on a deal like that. Like I said you try to hammer it out as long as possible and then you take a break and regroup to look over things and then you get back to the table hopefully with a fresh idea or seeing it from a different point of view.
"They are trying to work a deal out. They are trying to do the best that they can, so we don’t want the fans to think these guys aren’t in the room trying to work out a deal because they are. They are spending countless hours in a room and once they’re out of the room they’re still spending hours together to figure out what’s the best way to get something done."
Mason also commented on the Ravens shifting training camp from Westminster back to team headquarters in Owings Mills.
"I think the biggest thing we lose is not allowing the fans to come out and really be a part of that experience, the two-a-day experience, getting to see their favorite player, favorite team, out there practicing every day, getting autographs, getting pictures, connecting with the players," Mason said. "I think that’s the most important thing you are going to miss. For the players I think the plus for us going back is to be in a familiar area, not having to go from your hotel drive to the field and go through that whole hassle where if we walk right out of the building we are at the field.
"That’s probably the biggest plus for us is being familiar with our grounds. The biggest minus is not being able to interact with our fans and allow the fans out there to come out there and play because for some of them [Ravens fans] that’s the only opportunity they are going to get to see us, especially that close. That’s why we were initially going out there. That’s why Mr.[Steve] Bisciotti goes out there because it gives the fans an opportunity to those who can’t make the games, so they can get really up close and get autographs."