On Tuesday, Jets receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested for DUI. In response, the Jets huffed and puffed, but they ultimately took no real action. Edwards will play on Sunday night against the Dolphins, but he won’t start. Some players (including cornerback Darrelle Revis) have expressed confusion regarding this punishment.
Mike Francesa of WFAN isn’t confused at all. The Jets are “trying to scam everybody into this idea that they can hide behind the Players Association here and put Braylon Edwards on the field,” Francesa said Wednesday in an opening monologue during which he blasted the team for its handling of Edwards.
Calling it a “gutless and cowardly decision,” Francesa launched into an extended rant regarding the situation.
“[This is] the same Braylon Edwards who was partying with Stallworth when Stallworth went out in his car and killed somebody,” Francesa said. “That didn’t seem to have any impact on Braylon Edwards who got in the car the other night tanked up and could have killed the people in the car, including two of his teammates and another innocent person, and maybe could have killed some family driving along the highway or some guy getting ready to work who has four kids at home. The Jets care about that? Nope. They care about the Dolphins. . . .
“This is the same Braylon Edwards who beat up a 130-pound man. You ever see the size of Braylon Edwards? He beat up a 130-pound guy in the street. Tough guy. Tough guy.
“Or the same Braylon Edwards who went whipping through a Cleveland suburb at 120 miles an hour. Ask Mr. T [G.M. Mike Tannenbaum] if he wants Braylon Edwards driving down the block where his kids play, driving 120 miles an hour. You want Braylon Edwards driving through your neighborhood at 120 miles an hour, with absolutely no regard for anybody’s life?
“Braylon Edwards has learned one thing: Rules don’t matter if you can catch a football.”
Though Francesa initially directed blame at owner Woody Johnson, Francesa later turned his attention to Tannenbaum.
“A couple of years ago you used to hear Tannenbaum talk about character, and we only want players who talk about character,” Francesa said. “That’s before he linked up with Rex Ryan. And that’s before he tried to save his job from guys like Bill Cowher. Then he got a little nervous when guys like Bill Cowher started snooping around his job, and he started doing anything he had to do to win. Which means putting guys like Edwards on the field after they get tanked up and drive through the streets of New York. . . . Go back and listen to the things he used to say about the Jets before he linked up with Rex Ryan. ‘We don’t want guys who are here who are not character guys. We check everyone out.'”
One one specific point, Francesa is mildly inaccurate. He believes that the NFLPA has no ability to force teams to dress or play players. The labor deal, however, prevents disciplinary deactivations with pay. That said, the player has to be willing to push the issue, and as Rosenthal pointed out earlier today Edwards has admitted that he wouldn’t have fought it.
Francesa’s core message is on the money. The Jets could have done much more to Edwards, and the idea that they didn’t out of deference to the union is cover for ensuring that a starting-caliber receiver is on the field.
So when you hear any of the various talking heads on ESPN (we noticed several of them doing it today) explaining that the Jets had no choice but to let Edwards play, it’s simply not true. If the Jets wanted to send a message to Edwards and the rest of the locker room, they could have told Edwards to stay in New York this weekend.
But, as Francesa put it, the Jets care about the Dolphins. And they want to beat the Dolphins. And they think that Edwards will help them beat the Dolphins.
What else should we expect? They traded for Edwards two days after he was arrested for assault. Nearly a year later, they’re merely sleeping in the bed they made.