Jets owner says Edwards let himself, team down
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[September 24, 2010]
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)
Woody Johnson had strong words for Braylon Edwards when he met with him following the New York Jets wide receiver's drunken-driving arrest Tuesday morning.
"I just shared with him my feelings," the Jets owner said Thursday. "I told him exactly what I'm telling you:
'This is not acceptable, Braylon. I'm disappointed. You let yourself down. You let the team down.'"
Edwards was arraigned on drunken-driving charges Tuesday after a breath test showed he had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when he was stopped on Manhattan's West Side, prosecutors said. Edwards apologized to the team, fans and his family on Wednesday.
"This is a serious thing to be accused of, so I'm sorry that it happened to one of our guys," Johnson said, addressing the issue publicly for the first time. "Particularly when we've done a lot to address this particular issue because it does occur in professional sports, as it does in real life."
Johnson said he has spoken to Edwards "three or four times" since the incident and the wide receiver has shown remorse. The team determined that Edwards would be active for New York's next game Sunday night against Miami, but how much he plays would be up to coach Rex Ryan.
Ryan would not comment on the matter Thursday, but said he had a good idea of how much Edwards would play.
Due to the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, any punishment the Jets would dole out other than what the NFL eventually decides could violate the CBA. That means the Jets could not suspend or deactivate him without risking a violation. Keeping him active and not playing him could also be perceived as punishment.
"He's not going to start and I think it's about as a significant thing as you can do to a starter, a guy that considers himself in that respect," Johnson said.
He added that the Jets looked into previous similar cases before making their decision, saying there is no precedent to take a stand and deactivate a player.
"That's about as severe an action as I've seen," Johnson said. "Most teams have let the legal process take place. This has happened before. We hope it doesn't happen again here or elsewhere, for that matter."
Johnson also responded to criticism from fans and media that Edwards is getting off easy by the team for only losing a start.
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"He's losing a lot more than that," Johnson said. "First of all, we don't know if he's losing it, but he's got a serious ticket in front of him and if proven guilty he's got a serious taint on his record. He's going to be a free agent at some point. I would guess if he's convicted of this, this is not going to be helpful. So I think he's got a heavy load in front of him."
It is the latest negative incident for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations and starred on HBO's "Hard Knocks" this summer. The Jets were investigated by the NFL last week for their treatment of a female television reporter, and Johnson must underwrite a workplace conduct program the league is developing for all 32 teams.
Ryan scolded the team in a meeting before practice Wednesday, telling them that they all
-- including himself -- need to stop embarrassing Johnson and the organization.
"You know, embarrassing would not be the way I would characterize it," Johnson said. "It's more sad, rather than embarrassed. This type of thing doesn't represent who we are or who I want us to be and who Rex wants us to be. This is not the goal we're striving for."
Johnson added that the Jets will not tolerate drinking and driving, and cited that it has a Player Protect program in place that offers transportation to players free of charge and with confidentiality.
"I think we're just beginning," Johnson said. "We're going to push this as hard as we can push it. There's no tolerance for point-anything alcohol level if you're driving. Zero. I don't want any drinking and driving. That's my personal goal and that's what I'm going to tell them."
[Associated Press; By DENNIS WASZAK JR.]
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