Braylon Edwards: 'Boos will be serious'

Updated: November 11, 2010, 10:08 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Next to LeBron James, Braylon Edwards might be the most unpopular professional athlete in recent years to leave Cleveland.

Edwards expects a loud and ugly reception Sunday when he returns to Cleveland for the first time since being traded in October 2009 to the New York Jets. The Dawg Pound is going to be barking, and he gave the fans more fodder Wednesday, saying he was so down on the Browns that he couldn't wait to get out of town.

Saying he has a "personal war" with the city of Cleveland, the Jets' wide receiver described the day he was traded as one of the happiest of his career. Edwards recalled an early-morning meeting with coach Eric Mangini, who delivered the news.

"I didn't want to show how excited I was at the time; it would've been unprofessional to do a dance in his office," he said. "I couldn't get out of Berea [Ohio] fast enough."

The Dawg Pound is going to devour that quote.

Addressing his controversy-filled stay in Cleveland, Edwards said he was reluctant to relive the bad times, adding that he wanted to keep the focus on the upcoming game. But he couldn't resist.

Edwards said the fans and media gave him a "bull rap" for being a drop-prone receiver, and he blamed his ups and downs on the Browns' instability at quarterback. They started six different quarterbacks during his time in Cleveland, from 2005 to October 2009.

"Every week was trying to get on somebody else's page," he said. "That gets tough."

Edwards, the third overall pick in 2005, made the Pro Bowl in 2007, fulfilling his enormous potential. But things went bad the following year, when he dropped a league-high 16 passes.

"I got a bad rap based on one year, and I thought it was B.S.," Edwards said. "I don't think it was fair. It stuck with me. I don't like that rap."

An off-the-field incident sealed his fate, a nightclub incident with one of James' acquaintances. Edwards was accused of punching the man, and he eventually pleaded no contest to the charge of aggravated assault. It wasn't his first brush with the law; he had been pulled over several times for speeding. Two days later, Mangini shipped him out.

"Everybody benefitted from it," Mangini said of the trade.

Clearly, Edwards harbors a major grudge toward the Browns and the city, vowing to "take care of business" Sunday. He's not expecting any love from Cleveland's devout fans.

"I think the boos will be serious," he said. "Everybody will be against me."

What does he expect? This week, he has gone out of his way to incite them, tweeting after the Jets' overtime win in Detroit: "All you Cleveland Browns fans, 17 is coming back and you better bring ya damn popcorn."

Edwards' year in New York hasn't been a storybook, either. In September, he was arrested for drunken driving in Manhattan, prompting a huge public outcry. On Tuesday, Edwards made a court appearance in Manhattan. Another is scheduled for Jan. 11, the week of the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

Playing on a one-year, $6.1 million contract, Edwards is trying to convince the organization he'd be a sound investment for a long-term deal. The Jets will have a decision to make because fellow receiver Santonio Holmes, too, will be a free agent.

"I haven't been a distraction," Edwards said, quickly realizing what he said made no sense given the DWI charge. He added, "Although that one time was pretty distracting."

On the field, Edwards has played well, averaging an impressive 18.1 yards per reception with five touchdowns -- including a 74-yard score on Sunday. And, yes, he's had only one drop. In Wednesday's practice, he made a circus catch that left teammates buzzing.

"He's a guy who should be able to get a touchdown a game," Rex Ryan said. "That's the kind of ability he has. That's the way we should target him."

Edwards wants to have a monster game in Cleveland, and he has shared that sentiment with teammates.

"I'm ready to make a statement," he said.

He might want to bring ear plugs.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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