Ravens' Monday notes: Sanders undecided on return

OWINGS MILLS -- Deion Sanders granted a high volume of autograph requests from teammates and Baltimore Ravens special teams coordinator Gary Zauner while cleaning out his locker Monday, but was noncommittal on whether he'll return next season.

"Not at this time," Sanders said. "I'm the type of guy that really takes care of the now because if I look forward to tomorrow I'll miss today."

Sanders, 37, will undergo surgery on his left foot in the next couple of weeks, but the flamboyant nickel back said his decision on whether he'll retire again will hinge on more than his physical state.

"Not just physically, emotionally, I have five kids," Sanders said. "I have to take all those components into consideration to make a wise decision, not just a decision based on emotions."

Ravens coach Brian Billick has indicated that Sanders is welcome to return, but Sanders has a lot to ponder after missing seven games due to foot, toe and hamstring ailments. He said his health wouldn't stop him from coming back after intercepting three passes this season and scoring one touchdown.

Sanders retired after the 2000 season and returned in August at Ray Lewis' urging, hopeful of going to another Super Bowl. However, the Ravens (9-7) didn't even make the playoffs. He's an unrestricted free agent after signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract before the season.

"There are no regrets," Sanders said. "I had a wonderful time and established some tremendous relationships that I will cherish forever. No, we didn't succeed at the level we wanted to succeed, but everything has been positive."
Just not the unwanted attention of teammates tugging at Sanders for something to remember the future Hall of Fame selection by.

"It's really sad to walk around and the players are getting autographs as if they're not going to see you again," Sanders said. "That's new for me. I haven't been in that situation for quite a long time."

SCHEDULE: In 2005, the Ravens will host AFC North rivals Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland along with Houston, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Minnesota and the New York Jets. The Ravens travel to their AFC North opponents in addition to heading to Jacksonville, Tennessee, Chicago, Detroit and Denver.

DRAFT STATUS: The Ravens have a first-round draft pick this year, and will select 22nd. One mock draft has them selecting Oklahoma wideout Mark Clayton.

TRAINING ROOM: Outside linebacker Peter Boulware remains on crutches after undergoing toe surgery last week. The toe and a serious knee injury cost him the whole season.

Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo, who underwent surgery on a torn triceps last week, said he'll be ready by minicamps.
Rookie receiver Clarence Moore separated his shoulder in the season-ending win over the Dolphins and is in a sling.

SPEEDY EXIT: The players bagged up their belongings in trash bags Monday before hastily leaving the complex to begin the off-season.

"It's like the Indy 500 in the parking lot," Mulitalo said.

COMMITMENT: Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, who outlined a locker room divide last week, committed to attending training camp after skipping it last summer to protest being assigned the franchise tag. In October, he signed a $55 million contract.

"Being in training camp is definitely going to make me a better player," McAlister said. "You get the kinks out and get a chance to bond with your teammates. The trust factor, it's easier to trust when you go through a training camp."

QUICK HITS: Offensive tackle Orlando Brown, one of the biggest players on the team at 6-foot-7 and 365 pounds, discovered a poster of the movie, "Fat Albert" at his locker stall. He blamed defensive end Marques Douglas. "Probably one of the fat guys on the team," Brown said. "Probably Douglas. You ever seen his stomach. It's like he got twins. I'm going to keep it and give it to my kids." ... When Billick was asked whether the team's October move to a $31 million headquarters was detrimental to team chemistry as McAlister claimed last week, he quipped: "Next year, Chris McAlister is going to dress in the old facility. We're going to bus him back over and we'll find out how long he enjoys that before he starts complaining about the old facility. Did it affect the outcome of the season? No. If anything, a positive."

As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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