King: The Braylon Edwards Riddle

This week, Steve King takes on the future of WR Braylon Edwards, shown here getting into his first fight on Sunday. Despite his undeniable talent, is it time for the Browns to let Edwards go?

This was supposed to be a story about consistency, and in essence, it still is.

But, unlike originally planned, it's not about the consistency the Browns will need on Sunday at Buffalo from quarterback Derek Anderson and the offense as they try to build on their much-improved play from last Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Instead, it's about the consistency – or lack thereof, in a positive vain -- of Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

For five seasons now, Edwards has been consistent with his negative inconsistency, on and off the field. He makes a big catch between two defenders, then he drops the next two that his him right between the numbers. He had the greatest receiving season in Browns history in 2007, then came back last year to lead the NFL in drops.

He espouses a desire to be a good citizen by donating the whopping total of $1 million for scholarships for Cleveland school students. Then he fails to be a good citizen even on his own team by pouting about this, complaining about that.

Then, after getting into a fight against the Bengals, supposedly in coming to the aid of running back Jerome Harrison, whom he felt had been tackled unnecessarily hard, Edwards reportedly got into a fight early Monday morning with a friend of Cavaliers star LeBron James at a Cleveland night spot.

Was Edwards still upset that his string of catching a pass in every game he had played in his career, had been snapped? Remember, he says he wants to be a team player, so individual statistics shouldn't mean anything to him, should they?

Or is he really jealous of James' success and the proper way he conducts his life?

Does it really matter what the answers to any of these questions are? For in the end, enough's enough. The Browns need to part ways with Edwards as soon as possible, whether it's now or at the end of the season, when his contract is up and he can become a free agent.

His attitude, his desire to always have to be the story and his undisciplined, childlike ways are hurting the Browns much more than any help his play – if he would ever get his head screwed on straight – could provide them.

In short, he has become a huge distraction, even a cancer. And that's a strong term. We don't use it lightly, but it's oh, so appropriate here.

His actions have become a sideshow. He's a cartoon character whom you pity when you're not laughing at him.

When the doors to the Browns locker room are flung open for the beginning of the interview period each day, media members rush to Edwards' locker to see what juicy – what crazy – thing he'll do or say this time. It makes for great copy and sound bites.

But it makes for a bad teammate.

If the Browns were winning and Edwards were playing like he did in 2007, when he shattered nearly every team receiving record, then it might be tempting to just accept it as Braylon being Braylon. But the Browns aren't winning – they haven't won a single game yet this year and in fact have dropped 10 in a row going back to the end of last season – and Edwards is so badly under-achieving that it isn't funny. He's not a go-to receiver anymore, just a go-to guy in the locker room for the media.

OK, so we have to let legal process play out to see if Edwards really did do anything wrong at that bar. But the fact he has already done enough distasteful things in his career, and the fact he stupidly went to that bar and made himself a target when he should have known better, should be enough to implicate him.

First-year head coach Eric Mangini has taken a lot of grief -- some of it well-deserved -- for the discipline, albeit over the top at times, he is trying to institute on this team, and the alleged incident involving Edwards is exactly the type of thing he's trying to pull out by the roots. So in addition to trying to figure out how to get this struggling team a win, Mangini now has to deal with this nonsense, which has become a national story and, in the very least, brought shame to a team that has already taken enough hits to its image with all the losing and constant change in this expansion era.

If the Browns are ever going to get out of the mess they're in and begin winning games and eventually championships again, then they, as Mangini has pointed out time and again, have to find good players who are also tough, smart and dedicated. Edwards, with the way he's playing and acting, is no longer a good player, he's not tough, he's doing dumb things and he is as undedicated as they come.

It's no secret that Edwards wants to get out of here as soon as he can. As one media member wisely said, "This is like his senior year in high school and he's just waiting for it to end so he can go off to college."

Fine. Beat him to the punch – whoops, bad choice of words there -- and let him go, sooner rather than later, and start playing those two second-round draft picks on a steady basis in Mohamed Massaquoi, who was impressive against the Bengals, and Brian Robiskie, whose progress has been stuck in neutral for a long time. They have a chance to improve, develop and be good players. Edwards is what he is – a me-first malcontent who is not helping this team in any way, shape or form.

The Browns haven't won a game since last November with Braylon Edwards, so they can certainly keep going winless without him.

And it's time to start that process – for the good of the Browns and the good of their loyal fans, who deserve so much more than to continue to have to tolerate this consistently embarrassing behavior from this, sadly so, consistently embarrassing player.


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