By Tony Mangia
JETS WON'T BENCH RECEIVER ON SUNDAY
Leave it to the New York Jets to pile on the controversy. Once again the Hard Knocks reality show boobs set the standard for all the things that are wrong in sports. The obscenity-spewing head coach, Rex Ryan, said Braylon Edwards--who was busted yesterday for drunk driving will suit up for Sunday's big clash with division rivals, the Miami Dolphins. Ryan then added that the sauced-up receiver will begin the game sitting on the bench. That's what I call meting out punishment.
Yesterday, the tanked-up former-All-Pro was pulled over on the west side of Manhattan at 4:45 in the morning for having illegally tinted windows. Arresting officers said Edwards reeked of alcohol and slurred his words. He was charged with drunk driving for taking the wheel of his Range Rover with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system. Edwards' celebratory taunting call after catching a TD pass on Sunday was many drinks ago and it would be light spanking compared to the trouble he has now.
Edwards was headed home with four passengers including teammates D'Brickshaw Ferguson and Vernon Gholston after a poker fundraiser hosted by teammate Jerricho Cotchety. Cops said he blew a 0.16 on the breathalyzer and told them he "had a couple of drinks," then asked if he could, "Just leave the car and take a cab and go home?"
Edwards and his fellow Jets started the evening eight hours earlier and had the the availability of a free team car service that could take them all home--safely. Edwards said he took his final drink at "last call" and made the decision to drive himself--putting lives at risk.
It is not the first time the troublesome receiver has crossed the line with his teams or the law. Edwards has blown off coaches meetings, been ticketed for speeding at 120 m.p.h., and, last year, assaulted a friend of LeBron James outside a Cleveland nightclub. He is currently on probation for that aggravated assault charge. In a tragic episode--and coincidence--just a year and a half ago, Edwards ran up a $3,400 bar bill drinking with teammate Donte Stallworth who later that day ran down and killed a pedestrian and was charged with DWI. I guess Edwards didn't get the message from that one.
The Jets slap on the wrist is just another example of coddled athletes at it's worst. Jets' GM, Mike Tannenbaum said, "He will not start," like it's a stint in Alcatraz. The Jets are using a feather duster instead of the cane. Could it have something to do with the early season match-up with the 2-0 Dolphins or maybe they recall how last season's Giants team lost their receiving ace, Plaxico Burress, and it reversed a promising season?
Whatever the reason for the lax punishment, it seems like the Jets management and the owner, Woody Johnson, himself would be more cognizant of substance abusers. Johnson's flesh and blood daughter, Casey, battled substance and alcohol related problems for years. The "disinherited" daughter, whose death last year at age 30 was attributed to other physical reasons, might have been a precedent of how Johnson copes with family situations. The Jets already have substance abusers Santonio Holmes--the real number one receiver-- and Shaun Eliot--already sitting out for failed drug tests--and a laundry list of adversity and dysfunctions to overcome.
The NFL policies deem that it cannot suspend Edwards and the mild punishment meted out by the Jets doesn't really seem to take a stand against dangerous behavior or set any kind of example.
Edwards, another Jet with an overload of baggage was released from police custody in his "One Love" tee-shirt and a boilerplate apology to his "coaches, teammates and fans." Its lucky that this wide-receiver didn't slant right driving down 12th Avenue while trying to go post the other morning. There could have been five dead bodies--maybe more. At least Plaxico Burress only shot himself.