So, apparently, per the terms of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the Jets have no real recourse in disciplining Braylon Edwards.
Somehow, in a move of great foresight on the part of the players union (one that is usually chided for being weak), the footballers negotiated into their pact with the league and owners that there can be no disciplinary actions taken against a player for a first-time DWI arrest.
Nicely done, fellas.
Emperor Goodell, likely champing at the bit, will have to be restrained like a salivating rottweiler.
The Jets have said that Edwards will miss some playing time on Sunday, and, according to Newsday’s Bob Glauber, the Jets briefly explored suspending Edwards before coming to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be worth the hassle of dealing with a potential grievance from the players union.
But really, even if suspension were an option for the Jets, they shouldn’t explore it. No, I’m not a proponent of DWI, nor do I think football players (or anyone else) should be put above the law.
The Jets have to give Edwards a pass for his transgression because this is the team assembled by owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan and whoever else had a say in this. Edwards and a few other unsavory characters on this roster were acquired on the cheap (relative to their talents) because they had worn out their welcomes with the respective former teams. This was the plan all along — to become good and relevant as fast as possible, to step out of the shadow of the Giants post haste.
The Jets can’t have it both ways, try as they might. The odds of Edwards or Santonio Holmes coming to New York and reinventing themselves as choir boys were not great.
We fans, too, must live with this. We lauded the moves then, and it’d be hypocritical at best to knock them now. When Edwards was acquired, no one called into question his altercation with one of LeBron James’ buddies that left the former with probation and the latter beat up. We all cheered on Sunday when Edwards tactlessly celebrated his touchdown catch and taunted Pats cornerback Darius Butler (incurring a 15-yard penalty in the process). We cheered again when Edwards beat Butler later in the game for a two-point conversion and nearly was slapped with another 15-yard penalty.
Ryan’s plea to his team on Wednesday was comical: “Stop embarrassing the team.”
This from the same guy who could have made a trucker blush with his non-stop stream of vulgarity on “Hard Knocks?” The same one who was photographed flipping off a crowd in Miami at an MMA event last offseason?
Sure, it’d be nice if our team were comprised of 53 community pillars, and there’s no doubt that the reprehensible actions of a few usually overshadow the majority’s philanthropy. And, if I may put on my shrink’s hat for a moment, I suspect Edwards himself is merely a conflicted, angry young man, not necessarily a sociopath as he’s being depicted. The strange account of his battle of wits with the police officers who detained him says as much to me. Edwards, in fact, had been at an event for teammate Jericho Cotchery’s nonprofit organization which benefits underprivileged youths.
But I don’t take moral or ethical cues from athletes or celebrities, anyway, nor do most normal folks.
We’ve seen teams like this in New York in the past. Many of the 1986 Mets were drunks, drug abusers, womanizers, self-proclaimed “dirt bags” and later dubbed Bad Guys in a (best-selling) book. The city and its fans have shown that they’ll embrace this sort of debauchery so long as the team wins. Unwilling as we may be to accept this less-than-flattering self-honesty, it’s no less true.
I wrote last week that the Jets would probably be their own worst enemy this season, and I’m sorry to say it’s coming to fruition. At least I have no delusions about who they are and how they behave.
In the meanwhile, this is the cast of characters for whom we must pull. It’s the nature of sports; we root for laundry. But neither we nor the Jets should pretend we’ll be anything less than elated on Sunday night if Edwards hauls in a big catch against the Dolphins. Then, his actions will suddenly feel less important.