NFL CBA Overprotects Players Like Edwards

According to the current National Football League Collective Bargaining Agreement, it doesn’t matter that New York Jets’ wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arraigned on drunken driving charges with a Blood Alcohol Content of twice the legal limit after being pulled over on Manhattan’s West Side at about 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.

And, as far as the CBA is concerned, it’s of no consequence that just 557 days earlier, on the fateful morning of March 14, 2009, Edwards was out drinking with former Cleveland Browns’ teammate, fellow wide receiver Donte Stallworth, before Stallworth struck and killed Mario Reyes, a construction crane operator who was on his way home from work in Miami Beach, Florida that morning.

Shortly after that tragic day, it was found that since Reyes wasn’t in the crosswalk on Miami Beach’s MacArthur Causeway, Stallworth, whose BAC was .12 as he was driving about 50 mph in a 40 mph zone, had an excellent chance of being found innocent. Yet, Stallworth, guided by his own moral conscience, demanded to instead be convicted of a felony.

Stallworth learned something from that incident.

Edwards has apparently learned absolutely nothing.

Grounds enough, given several other incidents in Edwards’ checkered and selfish past during his NFL career for the Jets to suspend Edwards, or at least bench him for a while.

But, the NFL CBA, incredibly, won’t allow the Jets to do either.

Amazingly, the Jets are sort of forced to play Edwards Sunday night in Miami, against the Dolphins, assuming the NFL doesn’t hand out its own suspension this week (which it eventually will, whether this week or in the near future) for Edwards.

Yes, thanks to ridiculously overprotective CBA rules, any punishment the Jets would administer on their own, would violate the CBA. In fact, CBA rules are so ludicrous in such a situation, that the Jets can’t suspend or deactivate Edwards without risking a violation. And, keeping Edwards active but not playing him on Sunday could also be viewed as punishment, and thus, a violation.

Nevermind that the incident comes on the heels of far less serious ones in which Edwards further displayed his selfishness by annoying head coach Rex Ryan when he drew a 15-yard penalty for taunting after scoring a touchdown, and then being fortunate to not draw a second flag for the same thing after catching a two-point conversion in the Jets’ win over New England on Sunday.

And, forget the fact that Edwards was stopped a good 7½ hours after attending teammate Jerricho Cotchery’s third annual event for the Cotchery Foundation for kids, which ended at 9:30pm on Monday night.

Let’s also ignore that Edwards’ arraignment comes the week after the Jets were likely hoping that all of their players would keep a low profile off the field after last week’s negative publicity involving several Jet players verbally harassing a female reporter.

Given all of the above, as much as the Jets could use Edwards’ talents on the field for a key game for first place in the AFC East on Sunday, they’d probably opt to bench Edwards or even suspend him for an episode as serious as what occurred on Tuesday — if only the Jets could.

Instead, it all has to be overlooked by the Jets — unless the NFL punishes Edwards on its own this week — all because the NFL CBA insists that Edwards’ team be as neglectful of Edwards’ irresponsible actions as Edwards was to any New York City pedestrians which on Tuesday morning, might have ended up like Reyes did last year.

The message is clear: If you’re an NFL player who drives with too high of a BAC, you’ll be suspended by the NFL, yet just rearrange the letters in “BAC,” and you’re protected by the CBA from any action your team may choose to take against you.

Thus, if the impending lockout does occur next season, perhaps it might not be the worst thing for the league if one of the things that’s negotiated and revised is an overprotective and overreaching CBA when it comes to defending players like Braylon Edwards.

About the Author

Jon Wagner

Jon has been a credentialed writer with New York Sports Day since 2009, primarily covering the New York Knicks and Hofstra men's basketball. He has also occasionally covered other college basketball and New York's pro teams including the Mets, Giants, Jets, Islanders, Rangers and Cosmos (including their three most recent championship seasons).Jon is former Yahoo Sports contributor who previously covered various sports for the Queens Ledger. He's a proud alum of Hofstra University and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting (which he attended on a full scholarship).He remains convinced to this day that John Starks would have won the Knicks a championship in 1994 had Hakeem Olajuwon not blocked Starks' shot in Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals.

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