FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Derrick Mason strolled toward the fields where all the action was. But first he stopped to shake hands with general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson before making his way over to Santonio Holmes.
"It was great," Mason said Sunday. "I was back on the football field. I got tired of being off the football field. It was good to be back on it. It was good to be back around the fellas again. It'll feel even better [Monday] when I'm out there."
Mason, who inked a two-year deal with the Jets, arrived on the field with about 30 minutes left in Sunday afternoon's padded practice. It completed a whirlwind few days for the 37-year-old wide receiver, who was in town Thursday to take a physical with the Jets as wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery's request to be traded or released was unfolding. (The Jets ultimately released him.)
Playing for Rex Ryan and the Jets represented everything 15-year veteran Mason was looking for.
"This is an opportunity," he said. "I'm coming to the end of my career and I can still play a lot of good football, but I wanted to take every opportunity to try to win a Super Bowl. For me, this was the best place to try to do that.
"I'm familiar with Rex, I'm familiar with a few of these players around here. I've played with them. I'm familiar with this team, playing against them. So why not join a team that has been to the AFC championship the last two years?
"After a while, it became a no-brainer."
Released by the Ravens July 28 in a salary-cap cost-cutting move -- "Was I blindsided? Yeah, I was," Mason said -- he drew interest from the Ravens and the Titans, another of his former teams. During the Jets' pursuit, Ryan indicated Mason would have to take less money to come here. Mason said money was never his top priority, though.
"I've been in it going on 15 years now and the funds weren't necessarily Number 1 on my list," Mason said. "Number 1 on my list was to win, and win quickly. So there were other offers from other places, but this was the best fit for me."
Still, it wasn't an easy decision for Mason, whose family resides in Nashville, and he may have to smooth over a few hurt feelings with his kids.
"My daughter and my son were still upset somewhat because they got used to me being at home," Mason said. "For a minute there, I kind of got used to it, going to my son's football practices and being with my daughter. It was still hard for them to see me walk out that door."
That's part of the reason why Ryan transformed into somewhat of a college coach, doing his best to give Mason a hard recruiting pitch and follow Tannenbaum's orders to stay in Mason's ear as much as possible.
"Mike was on the phone trying to get me , 'Call Derrick. Call Derrick,' " Ryan said. "I'm like, 'Yeah, I got you.' I'm on the phone with [Mason] and I don't know if [Tannenbaum] couldn't find me or whatever to get a hold of Derrick, while I'm on the phone with [Mason] the whole time."
The constant call waiting had Ryan's phone beeping non-stop while he chatted it up with Mason on Saturday.
"Finally, I hang up," Ryan said, "and then, sure enough, I get a call immediately after and I'm like, 'Will you guys just cut it out? We got him. He said he's going to call us.'
"I'm sure those were some anxious moments for Mike."