Ray Edwards disputes problem player label

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As career implosions go, it doesn’t happen much more quickly than it did for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who went in roughly 20 months from being the prize of the post-lockout free-agency class to a one-year, $1.35 million base deal.

But at least Asomugha is still in the league.

Defensive end Ray Edwards, who jumped from the Vikings to the Falcons after the lockout, was cut during his second season in Atlanta, and he never has been heard from again.

Except, of course, when knocking guys out with punches so ferocious they don’t even have to, you know, connect.

Edwards, who now embraces boxing in large part because the NFL no longer embraces him, is the subject of a slow-news-day profile in USA Today.  He claims he didn’t know about Nick Capes’ plan to take a no-punch dive.  Edwards also claims that his football career didn’t deserve the knockout blow it received from the Falcons.

“When they say you’re a bad apple, they don’t want you on your team; Terrell Owens is evidence,” Edwards said.  “Before [Owens] left the game, he was a 1,000-yard receiver, but he didn’t get a job because of people saying he’s a bad person.  It’s hard to get second chances in the NFL because it’s a product line coming out of college.

“I think [Falcons head coach] Mike Smith [gave me the problem player label] because me and him weren’t on the best of terms.  He felt someone was better than me, but I knew he wasn’t.  Players didn’t agree with him.  He just didn’t like me.”

Other football coaches are smart enough to factor in those potential personal conflicts.  Disregarding whatever the Falcons were saying, the Seahawks (who gave Owens a chance last year) brought Edwards in for a tire-kicking after he was cut.  But when defensive end Chris Clemons tore an ACL in the wild-card round, Pete Carroll and John Schneider dusted off concussion-lawsuit plaintiff Patrick Chukwurah for a divisional-round game at Atlanta — even though Edwards surely would have had extra motivation (and maybe some inside information) to help Seattle win in the Georgia Dome.

“If you don’t do what they tell to do in the NFL, exactly how they tell you to do it, you have a bad attitude,” Edwards said.  “I have a bad attitude because I want to be on the field?  That sounds like a winning attitude to me.”

No, it sounds like a guy who knows better than his coach, and who doesn’t know when to accept the coach’s decision and move on.

17 responses to “Ray Edwards disputes problem player label

  1. For the most part I agree with him in regards to the “Problem player” label. Once that gets applied to a player, unless they are very young (i.e. under 27) then a majority of the time teams don’t appear to be willing to give them a 2nd chance. So once that label is applied to an older player, they are pretty much done at that point. Whether it’s fair or not doesn’t matter, it will continue to happen, and players would be wise to learn from that and avoid being labeled as a “Problem player”.

    But that also ties in with teams for the most part ignoring older veterans in general. A few years ago big name FA’s over 30 wouldn’t be thrown out like yesterday’s trash. Starting a couple years ago, all teams started cutting big name productive players on the wrong side of 30 and focused on drafting cheaper replacements. It was basically an overnight shift away from big money veterans and getting younger and cheaper via the draft. It was pretty crazy how fast the shift happened, and it hasn’t changed since.

  2. Edwards was good when he played for the Vikings. He wasn’t great. When you’re not great in the NFL you’re considered “depth”. Ray’s attitude does not allow any team to keep him around as depth. As he states, there are plenty of college kids ready to fill the backup positions on the depth charts. That’s why you’re not in the NFL anymore, Ray!

  3. You don’t hear too many players knocking Mike Smith. You also don’t hear too many coaches standing up for Edwards.

  4. This is hardly the most famous of Ray Edwards’ claims. The one that takes the top spot is when he predicted he would set the NFL record for sacks in a season while he was a Viking.

    This coming from a guy who never even achieved a double digit sack # in his entire career.

    Odds-wise, I would give the Vikings a better chance of winning the Superbowl so we all know how far fetched that is.

  5. A guy who could frustrate any coach because he could show signs of explosive potential…and then disappear for games at a time.
    His attitude, his inconsistency, his lack of practice preparation….now his lack of a paycheck. Not much of a mystery.

  6. Was the Flacons orgs position personal or just business? Seems to me they overpaid for a player who played opposite Jared Allen and next to the Williams Wall.

    Many players these days do not seem to understand leverage or more importantly, how leverage changes due to skill, budget, internal competition, team culture/chemistry or development status of the team (ie win now vs. rebuild).

    Many of these players cannot balance a checkbook, but they like to opine about how to run or split revenues for a billion dollar business.


  7. While Ray Edwards does say some dumb stuff, I totally agree with Edwards and bobby2478 above that the problem player label is way too hard to get rid of. The larger problem, however, seems to be distinguishing a “goofball” from a “problem player”.

    Just because a player likes to run his mouth off the field, or do wacky, attention-getting stunts like racing a horse; challenging Tony Romo to a cage match; or amateur boxing, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a locker room cancer.

    Obviously you need mature Ray Lewis/London Fletcher types in the locker room, but just because a player acts like a twenty-something with a lot of money (which he is) or tries to enjoy his celebrity status (which you know you would do too) doesn’t mean he is going to tear your team apart. Obviously this statement does not extend to 300k birthday parties for guys who aren’t even in a locker room.

    Chuck said it best: “[these guys are] not role models”. Athletes are entertainers, and as long as it’s not a problem during the season, they should be allowed to entertain us during the offseason as well; without it putting their career in jeopardy.

  8. This is why I cannot stand some pro athletes. They need to be caudled and told how good they are in order for them to feel accepted. Be a man. Accept what people think about you – good and bad. If bad, what are you going to do to change that perception? If you’re a middle of the road player with an attitude, there will always be a similar player chomping at your heels that will be a better team player. When he played for the Vikes, he was a malcontent. He wanted more and was not afraid to call out coaches and players. There is nothing wrong with that – but don’t expect people to have your back when you’re willing to burn a bridge.

  9. I’m a Pats fand but Mike Smith does not strike me as the type of coach who would destroy someone’s reputation unfairly.

    In that article, Edwards took zero responsibility for his reputation and tried to justify his attitude as a winner’s attitude. But reading what he said, it looks like the team wandet him to do things a certain way and he didn’t. So how is that Smith’s fault? Edwards comes off as lacking maturity and accountability. He is right to compare himself to TO who has similar problems.

  10. Two points….

    Edwards is a known for not being a guy who follows orders well. In 2009 he was very public in his wish for Tavaris “TJoke” Jackson to start over Brett Favre.

    The rookie wage scale combined with drastically higher veteran minimum salaries made most seasoned veterans unaffordable. The league wisely pushed for the long overdue rookie wage scale, but the sharp increase in veteran minimum salaries was high on te union wish list. So if veterans are wondering why the market is soft for their services, they need to look no further than their own union who set their minimum salaries so high they are no longer affordable.

  11. Ask anyone who works inside Winter Park who one of the biggest jerks was when he played for the team and Ray Edwards name is always at the top of the list.

  12. I think it was more of a football decision than anything. Playing with Jared Allen and Pat and Kevin Williams, his highest sack output was I believe 8.5 in a season. Without that elite talent next to him, he was exposed as being a marginal DE and his production could be matched by someone a fraction of his cost. Just my personal opinion.

  13. He is still the same loud mouth he was in Minnesota and someone that believes he’s better than what he is. His game play in Atlanta proved he only benefitted working next to 3 probowl players such as Jared Allen and the Williams Wall.

    Allen thinks he’s much better than what he really is. Atlanta was stupid enough to pay him. His attitude isn’t a “winning attitude”. It’s a “me” attitude and is why he is out of football and no one wants him. He didn’t just get the label in Atlanta. He gave it to himself for his comments in Minnesota and now Atlanta. Good riddance and good luck getting the crap kicked out of you in the boxing arena. Your self proclaimed “winning attitude” will serve you much better there. Not in a team sport.

  14. Wrong, he was not marginal, he was a good player with a bad attitude. Big difference. His problem started when Pat Williams and he tried to hurt Toby Gerhart in practice. Then the final straw came when Devin Hester ran right past Edwards for a TD and Ray layed on his back with his legs in the air. Didn’t even try. It was a Haynesworthing effort. If he wasn’t a quitter and a pain in the neck I am sure the Vikings would give him another chance because he is very talented. Talent doesn’t come with heart though and that is the reason he is gone.

  15. Ejmatt2,

    I believe you mixed Allen’s name in there by accident… But if it was on purpose, you need to check yourself.
    Not only is Jared Allen is one of the best players in the league, but he has been one of the NFL’s best examples of gamesmanship on it and has been exemplary off the field since he’s been a member of the Vikings. This is coming from a Die Hard life long Packers fan. It doesn’t even pain me to admit it. I only wish we had guys with half his effort and talent on our defensive line!

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