The NFL has always been a ‘show me” league often times, that means ‘show me” players.

One such player is Braylon Edwards. Since arriving in Cleveland four years ago, he’s had one terrific year and two other solid years, with some disappointing moments mixed in as well. One of those disappointing seasons was last year, and a large part of the reason (or so it seems) is that Edwards was not happy in Cleveland. In fact, he made it public. That is where the story starts.

Edwards became disgruntled. He was second in the league in on-target balls dropped last season. At the beginning of this year he made it clear that he wanted out. He did not get his wish initially so he whined about it. Then the season began, and his play reflected his attitude. He even went so far as to hit a bouncer at a Cleveland nightclub (still being investigated). This past week, the Browns traded Edwards to the New York Jets. He got what he wanted, but if he still has iron hands he will be booed to no end.

This brings our attention to a bigger problem. Braylon Edwards is not the first player to become disgruntled. He also is not the first to use any means to get a trade. This is precisely the issue. Why is it that the disgruntled player gets what he wants? The player who whines and complains ought not to be rewarded for his poor behavior.

Let us look at Edwards’ case, because he does what a lot of players have done and, if nothing is changed, will continue to do. The first thing he did is to make his displeasure public. There is no problem with being unhappy with a situation, but an NFL locker room is supposed to be cohesive, and there are unwritten conduct codes. It is an act of disrespect to make displeasure public, because it creates a distraction. The media circus is a complete downer to a team. Like many others before him, Edwards should have kept this behind closed doors and shared it only with those who needed to know (the owner, general manager and maybe the coach).

Secondly, Edwards started playing like it. The bottom line for a player is that he is under contract. A player is paid to perform. The contracts in the NFL are incentive-based, so it is in a player’s best interest to perform well. If a player wants out of a situation, he is more likely to be desirable if he shows that he’ll play hard on a bad team.The last thing Edwards did is he whined. Oh my goodness, shut up! Sometimes you get stuck with a bad team tough luck. There is no place for whining. Edwards made himself look spoiled. It is embarrassing to an organization when a player does so. The attitude is so poor.

So how does this sum up? Edwards got his way, but his methodology was stupid. He is not the first and unfortunately probably not the last. Many other players will see this and think it is OK for them to do this. In fact, it’s not. This poor example is one that the NFL should and must put the clamps on. A player should earn his keep. In fact that is what NFL contracts are designed to do. There is no issue with being unhappy with a situation, but there is a problem when a player who is disgruntled takes the whole team with him.
Maybe Edwards will do better, but that still doesn’t change the fact that he went about it the wrong way.

Gillenson is a member of the class of 2010.

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