McRant: Braylon Edwards' Delusion

Nothing is healthier than surrounding yourself with an artificial reality, writes OBR publisher Barry McBride. Or he doesn't. Really, it's hard to tell through the thick fog of Wolverine hate around here.

Historians tell us that the "Orange and Brown Report" was originally the fanciful hobby of an occasionally sober middle-aged suburban father of three.

That person, who shall be henceforth referred to as "me", had a writing output that was once referred to as "prodigious". It was also referred to as "annoying", which is a subject for later discussion. Nonetheless, my front-page contributions became more scarce over time, which I justified with a series of increasingly ludicrous and unbelievable excuses.

Still, there remained a determined (very) few who have continued to insist that I provide collections of mostly-related words and phrases on a regular basis. The reasons for this remain murky, but I've most often associated them with the prodigious ingestion of alcohol.

Visitors who remember the cleverly-branded "Singular Source of Complaint", "Rumor Central" and "Drunk Guy Game Report" articles will remember these efforts to be basically futile and doomed to failure, because I eventually realize that I have absolutely nothing useful to say.

After receiving gentle reminders from my overworked cohorts on the OBR that there's no "sports columnist" on the planet who says or does anything useful, I've promised to fill up otherwise-useful front page space with my prattling once more.

Frankly, I think Internet surfers might be better advised to spend their time looking foramusing videos of feline pratfalls on Youtube.

In fact, I think I'll do that now, because there's nothing funnier than a cat falling off a television.

When I return, I'll write something about Braylon Edwards. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on the internet willing to take on that challenging subject tonight.

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Here's a question: When are we as a community of fans going to learn how to truly rid ourselves of the noxious annoyances of our past?

If Cleveland Browns fans aren't tormenting themselves over Bill Belichick becoming a Hall-of-Fame head coach, we're ruing about Art Modell winning a Super Bowl, or Braylon Edwards having a shot at playing in the NFL's premier event should the Jets win later today.

On one level, who cares what these guys do or did after leaving Cleveland? None of them were particularly successful, trustworthy, or pleasant to be around when they were here.

On another level, we sure find ourselves with a lot of free time every January.

Any Edwards-related angst we have should be short-lived, however. Edwards father yesterday made the mistake of speaking from his heart to Plain Dealer Browns reporter Tony Grossi, who then repeated his words in print form, as reporters are wont to do.

"You guys all hate him," Stan Edwards told Grossi in a telephone interview, blaming his son's clearly less-than-successful schooling at the University of Michigan for his unpopularity.

"If there was continuity in the organization and there was one quarterback he was playing with and he was still making Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl, the relationship would have still been the same with the Cleveland fans", Edwards concluded.

Naturally, Browns fans will dispute this, and rightly so.

The fan base which rapidly adopted Steve Everitt and Leroy Hoard as heroes has shown itself to be extremely forgiving once an orange and brown uniform replaces one that's maize and blue. Besides, Edwards tenure in Ann Arbor (2001-04) was known mostly for being the period of time when Jim Tressel began to make a yearly Ohio State victory over the Wolverines as shocking and unexpected as weekly garbage pickup.

The Buckeyes beat UM three out of four times when Edwards was there, including a 37-21 thrashing by a 6-4 squad during Edwards senior season. Hardly the sort of experience that creates long-term dislike. Sympathy, maybe, or pity, but not dislike.

On the other hand, the fan base has shown itself to be less-than-forgiving to well-compensated top three draft picks who don't perform adequately. This is particularly true if they embarrass starting quarterbacks on the sideline, take helicopters to football games despite the admonitions of the head coach, and drop balls like a juggler in an earthquake.

It doesn't require a great deal of insight to conclude, as many assuredly have already done, that Edwards and his father are delusional about why they were disliked in Cleveland.

The only thing that might be surprising about a top professional football player being delusional about himself is that anyone is surprised by it.

Edwards pointing the finger at Browns fans for his own mistakes reflects a tendency that we've seen far too often in top athletes, as well as other high profile individuals in the world of entertainment, politics and industry. It's simple human nature, psychology 101 style.

If anyone puts themselves in an insulating bubble of people who repeat back to them whatever they want to hear, or make excuses for them, or protect them from bad news, you will eventually see them produce a version of the world that is extremely skewed. Braylon Edward's delusions come from the same place that makes so many prominent figures believe that normal rules don't apply to them.

I love my children like all parents love their children. But I won't put them in a bubble to protect them from reality. I have a hard time imagining a situation where I would blame the citizens of an entire city for unfairness if they screw up. Helping children escape from the reality of their own mistakes won't help them in the long run. Even if the child is 26 years old.

But, hey, it's not a big deal.

Edwards delusions are essentially harmless, and he's far from alone. After all, delusions can be psychologically useful. They can save oneself from self-immolating despair, or help to rationalize actions that are morally wrong or ultimately self-destructive. Such as, for example, spending yourself deep into credit card debt and then convincing yourself that it's the banks' fault for giving them to you. Or blaming Ray Kroc for your obesity. Maybe delusions help some people survive until they are ready to face their own weaknesses.

What concerns me is that we as a society are engaging in large-scale communal delusions. You may disagree. Yet, if Braylon Edwards isn't excused for his delusions, we shouldn't excuse ourselves. There's a sort of hypocrisy inherent in mocking Edwards when many of us surround ourselves with equally artificial realities.

Braylon Edwards bizarre convictions are but an amusing sidetone. They will fade from view, and be carried away on the river of news that assaults us each day. Few will remember them two weeks after the football season ends.

Sports news is world news in miniature. Edward's delusions are unsurprising in an era of celebrity worship and unimportant in an era where we delude ourselves about far more important issues every day.

Sometimes I think that the only delusions that people see are the small ones.

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Barry McBride is the publisher of the Orange and Brown Report. Eventually, this afterword will contain something clever, self-aware, and perhaps a bit "meta". So we can all look forward to that. For now, just be aware you can contact him by clicking here. Suggestions for future columns, offers of free adult beverages, praise, and criticism are all welcomed in equal measure.

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