This past week, the Jets have been shrouded in controversy and finger pointing with the news that on Tuesday morning, wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested in Manhattan for DWI. Since the news broke, media outlets and pundits who don’t know Sione Pouha from Ropati Pitoitua let alone Brad Smith from Eric Smith have taken it upon themselves to point a sanctimonious finger in the direction of this franchise. A franchise that, should be noted, has been among the cleanest and most orderly in league history over the past decade.
The finger-waving has to stop.
There is no denying the fact that the Jets wide receiver made a mistake with ignorant and poor judgment, risking his own welfare and that of his teammates who were also with him in his SUV. All this says nothing about endangering other drivers and pedestrians around him. But Edwards and the Jets are not the lone team or player to struggle with this incident although judging from hue and cry, one would think this is the first arrest ever in the history of the NFL.
In fact almost two years ago, the team that shares the New Meadowlands Stadium with the Jets had an almost identical situation when offensive lineman Kareem McKenzie was arrested with a DUI and played the next Sunday against Baltimore. Since this time last September, 17 NFL players have been arrested for DUI or charges stemming from driving while intoxicated. Only one of them, Edwards, plays for the Jets.
While this is Edwards’ second arrest in the span of the year, this is not another sign of a Jets organization run amuck or systemic of a bigger problem under head coach Rex Ryan’s free-flowing, “in your face” system. In fact, since general manager Mike Tannenbaum took over the team in 2006, this is just the fourth arrest of a Jets player during that stretch of time. But the fact that Ryan and the Jets talk a big game and let their bravado run a bit more than most NFL teams creates a firestorm anytime an incident like this arises.
And what if this was a last place team in a small media market who didn’t have superstar players or Super Bowl ambitions? Would people care as much, or are the Jets victims of their location and their over-the-top swagger?
So while it is easy to criticize the Jets in light of Antonio Cromartie’s failed child support payments (a situation which should be noted began while he was in San Diego) and the recent TV Aztecagate, and of course Tuesday’s arrests, it is hard to stomach the criticism that the Jets are “Team Gone Wild” under Rex Ryan.
Sunday can’t come soon enough for this team and for Edwards, who has already been told he won’t start the game. Maybe, just maybe, the game in Miami can put the pedal to the metal for a team and a player who is unfairly being singled out for his sins because of the so-called reputation of the team he plays for.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012