Braylon Edwards was one of the most athletic wide receivers to ever play in the NFL.
While this college superstar didn’t make too many waves in the NFL, Edwards excelled at his position and made defenders look lost when guarding him.
From a young kid in Detroit to a superstar at the University of Michigan, Braylon achieved his dreams through hard work and dedication.
Braylon Edwards pic.twitter.com/hAPeFBGsz1
— Eric Johnson (@EricJoh24) May 13, 2022
This is the story of Braylon Edward’s life and career surrounding the NFL and how Edwards came to be the star he was.
Braylon Jamel Edwards was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 21, 1983.
Braylon was born into the world of football, as his father, Stan Edwards, was a running back in the NFL back in his prime, playing for the Detroit Lions and Houston Oilers.
Braylon and his brother Berkley grew up in Detroit.
At the age of four, Edward’s parents got divorced, changing their lives at a very young age.
Despite the divorce, Edwards met many of his father’s teammates, igniting the flame inside of him to one day become a professional football player, just like his father.
At around the age of 12, Edwards began training with his father to reach his goals and make it to the NFL.
When Edwards began his high school career, he attended Detroit’s Bishop Gallagher High School, where he competed in basketball and track.
On the football field, Edwards could do it all, playing various positions for his team, mainly wide receiver.
During his three years playing football at Bishop Gallagher High School, Edwards caught 63 passes for 740 yards and 8 touchdowns.
While Edwards was following in his father’s footsteps in football, he also excelled in track and field.
During his senior year in 2001, Edwards competed in the high jump at the MHSAA track and field championships.
Edwards jumped an impressive 6’8″, but was barely beaten by Mike Baysdell with a jump of 6’9″.
With the catching ability, Edwards proved in football and the jumping ability he showed in track, Edwards was a top recruit for many Division 1 programs.
When the decision came for Edwards to choose a college program, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps yet again and attend the University of Michigan.
While Edwards was on the team from the 2001 season to the 2004 season, his first real playing time came during his sophomore season in 2002.
Edwards was joining a dominant Michigan Wolverines team, who consistently placed near the top of the Big Ten standings.
Edwards became one of the top receivers for the Wolverines, bringing in 67 receptions for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns his sophomore year.
Despite this impressive display, Edwards outdid himself in his junior year, catching 85 passes for 1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns.
With the 2004 season approaching and Edwards’ last year of eligibility, the pressure was high for the star wide receiver to deliver his final season.
So, Edwards decided to have the best season of his college career when it mattered most.
Edwards recorded 97 receptions for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns to help the Wolverines go 9-2 in the season.
The highly ranked Wolverines were invited to play in the Rose Bowl, a bowl game they lost in the previous year to USC.
Despite the valiant efforts of Edwards and the Michigan team, they lost 37-38 to the Texas Longhorns in a shoot-out.
With the season coming to a close, Edwards began receiving multiple accolades for his performance over his college career.
Edwards won the Fred Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wide receiver for that year.
He was also awarded the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten’s most valuable player.
Alongside these awards, Edwards was a unanimous first-team All-American.
While Edwards’ senior season performance won him all these awards, he had many seasons and career records broken that year as well.
His 97 receptions and 1,330 receiving yards during the 2004 season were both Michigan program records.
He also broke career records, with his 252 total receptions and 3,541 receiving yards.
Edwards’ 39 touchdowns were both a Michigan program record and a Big Ten record.
Edwards’ performance at Michigan wasn’t just limited to football however, the track and field star continued participating in the sport during the football off-season.
Edwards competed in the 60-meter dash, the 100-meter dash, and the 200-meter dash.
His most impressive performance was his 21.81 seconds 200-meter dash, where he achieved the third-fastest time in school history for the event.
With an incredible performance in college and almost unlimited athleticism, Edwards was fulfilling his childhood dreams and making a strong case for himself in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Early Years In NFL
Edwards continued to prove his worth in the NFL Combine before the 2005 NFL Draft.
With his background in track, Edwards was able to show impressive time in the different speed and jumping based events, with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash and a 38-inch vertical in the vertical jump.
When the time came for the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Edwards with the 3rd overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Despite being an all-star in college, Edwards was the third wide receiver on the Browns’ Roster for his rookie season.
A hold-out made Edwards miss the beginning of his training camp and before the season officially started, he revealed he had a staph infection that caused him to miss the first few weeks of the season.
However, after everything was worked out, Edwards joined the starting lineup and began putting up modest numbers for his new team, catching 32 receptions for 512 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first season.
Near the end of the 2005 season, Edwards suffered a season-ending knee injury that would need surgery during the offseason.
During the off-season, fellow teammate Kellen Winslow II was also going through rehab from off-season surgery, bringing the two together as they worked towards being able to play for the 2006 season.
Both Winslow and Edwards made a fast and full recovery in time for the 2006 season.
After an injury to the Brown’s top receiver, Joe Jurevicius, Edwards became the number one receiving option on the team.
Edwards continued to work hard and play his best, despite being on a Browns team that went 4-12 during the 2006 season.
Edwards was able to pull in 61 catches for 884 yards and 6 touchdowns while being able to play in all 16 games that season.
Edwards wasn’t only known for his production on the field when he was playing in the NFL.
The Browns’ newly added receiver was often known for off the field matters as well, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not.
At the conclusion of the 2006 season, Edwards started his streak of charitable donations to different organizations and people.
He started by giving the University of Michigan a $500,000 scholarship for football players, followed by him starting the Braylon Edwards Foundation.
As a part of the Braylon Edwards Foundation, Edwards pledged to 100 high school students in Cleveland that if they met certain criteria (keeping a 2.5 GPA or higher and 15 hours of community service), then he would pay for their college tuition.
This promise was valued at around $1 million, a generous donation to the future of Cleveland.
However, Edwards wasn’t always known for good things off the field.
Edwards frequently called out opposing team’s defensive backs and even got into an altercation with Charlie Frye on the sidelines during a game in 2006.
On top of that, Edwards attended the annual Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game, despite the Browns’ team captain’s warning against it.
Edwards ignored them and ended up being late to a team meeting the next day, diminishing his reputation in the eyes of his teammates.
While these off-field situations were just the start for Edwards, it painted a bad picture early for the star receiver that would progressively get worse as time went on.
However, at the start of the 2007 season, Edwards started his breakout season and eventual best season in his NFL career.
Edwards helped propel the team to a 10-6 record during the 2007 season, the first winning season in 4 years for the team.
Edwards’ statistical performance during the 2007 season broke many team records including receiving yards with 1,289 and receiving touchdowns with 16.
The previous receiving yards record for the Brown’s franchise was set back in 1989 by Webster Slaughter and the receiving touchdowns record previous was set in 1963 by Gary Collins.
In his third year in the NFL Edwards was proving that he was one of the best wide receivers ever to put on a Brown’s uniform.
With his 80 receptions for 1,289 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns, Edwards was selected to his first and only Pro Bowl in his NFL career.
Edwards was also selected for the Second-Team All-Pro team for his performance during the 2007 season.
After his spectacular performance during the 2007 season, Edwards was not afraid to be prideful.
He publicly made a bet with Gold Medalist swimmer Michael Phelps that he would catch 17 touchdowns in 2008, beating his previous year’s touchdown count.
Unfortunately for Edwards, the Browns would end up flopping and have a terrible season in 2008.
Edwards went from a whopping 16 receiving touchdowns in 2007 to 3 in 2008.
After a poor performance during the 2008 season and lots of off-field issues, Edwards was traded to the New York Jets for wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and a third and fifth-round draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
End Of NFL Career
Edwards saw the transition to New York as a needed “fresh start”.
The new Jets wide receiver was gaining a bad reputation in Cleveland and needed a change in scenery.
The Browns traded Edwards after the 4th game of the season, so Edwards played in the last 12 games of the 2009 season with the Jets.
Edwards compiled 35 receptions for 541 yards and 4 touchdowns in his 12 games with the Jets.
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) April 14, 2022
With the Jets going 9-7 during the 2009 season, Edwards got his first taste of the playoffs in his short NFL career, as the Jets barely made it in the Wild Card position.
Despite the Jets barely making it into the playoffs, they were able to fend off the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers in their first two playoff games.
This left them in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Edwards had little impact on the first two playoff wins, but in the AFC Championship game, Edwards caught an 80-yard touchdown reception to put the first points up on the board for the New York Jets.
Despite Edwards’ performance, the Jets fell to the Colts 30-17, knocking them out of the playoffs one game before the Super Bowl.
Edwards continued playing for the Jets the following season, recording 53 catches for 904 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Edwards led his team in receiving yards and helped the Jets achieve an 11-5 record during the 2010 season, once again making it into the playoffs through the Wild Card position.
With their first playoff game being against the team that knocked them out last year, the Indiana Colts, the Jets had a chip on their shoulder and beat the Colts 17-16 in a nail bitter.
Edwards and the Jets continue rolling through the playoffs as they beat the Patriots 28-21 in the Divisional Round, moving them back to the AFC Championship Game for the second year in a row.
Edwards lost his final opportunity of making it to the Super Bowl when the Jets lost in a heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-24.
After the 2010 season, Edwards’ contract was up and the Jets chose to not extend his contract, leaving Edwards out on the market looking for a new team.
On August 4, 2011, Edwards signed with the San Francisco 49ers for a one-year $1 million contract with a couple of stipulations for extra money.
If Edwards was able to make it to the Pro Bowl or catch 90 passes that season, his contract would increase to $3.5 million.
Unfortunately for Edwards, during his 9 appearances in games, he only caught 15 passes and performed poorly with the 49ers, causing them to waive him on December 27 of that same year.
Edwards got the opportunity to play again during the 2012 season, as the Seattle Seahawks signed him to a one-year deal.
However, with another poor performance, Edwards was quickly running out of teams that would give him a chance.
The Seahawks waived Edwards on December 4, 2012, but the Jets were willing to give him one last chance, as they picked him up off of waivers one week later on December 11, 2012.
After the 2012 season, the Jets signed Edwards to a one-year deal with the Jets for the 2013 season.
Edwards signed the papers on July 25, 2013, but only one month later on August 26, 2013, the Jets decided to waive Edwards again.
With all the different teams and bouncing around the league, this was the final straw for Edwards, as he retired from the NFL.
While Edwards was only in the league for 8 years, he had his moments of greatness when playing in a Browns or Jets uniform.
The all-star out of Michigan completed his childhood dream of following his father and becoming an NFL player.
Unfortunately for Edwards, he will most likely be remembered more for his stints off the field, than his performance on it.
Edwards’ off-field problems started all the way back in college in 2002.
From 2002 to 2010, Edwards had been pulled over 7 times for speeding, with one of the worst incidents being in October 2008 when he was pulled over for going 120 mph in a 65 mph zone.
Alongside speed issues, in 2010, Edwards was arrested for drinking and driving in New York early in the morning.
Edwards took the alcohol test and tested at 0.16, double the legal limit for the test.
This clear violation of the law ended with Edwards being charged with a DUI.
Reckless driving wasn’t the only trouble Edwards got into off the field.
Edwards has a long streak of violent encounters under his belt, including punching an acquaintance of Lebron James in Cleveland.
This encounter happened outside of a nightclub at 2:30 am when Edward Givens was talking about James’ success.
This prompted Edwards, in a jealous rage, to lash out and punch Givens for his comments.
For this action, Edwards was charged with misdemeanor assault and was eventually given a 180-day jail sentence, which was suspended, and a fine of $1,000.
Despite this violent outlash, the NFL ended up not suspending or punishing Edwards for his actions.
However, Edwards’ streak of violence didn’t end after leaving the NFL.
In October of 2013, two months after being waived from the New York Jets for the second time, Edwards was accused of assault on an unknown man.
When a photographer recorded the fight, Edwards attacked the photographer for not deleting the film.
These incidents caused more drama to circulate around Edwards’ life and make him quite unpopular overall.
Despite this reputation Edwards was accumulating, his generosity wasn’t undone.
When the time came for the students whom Edwards had promised the scholarships for were to graduate, Edwards delivered on his promise.
The 100 eighth-graders that Edwards had made the promise to in 2007 were each awarded $10,000 in scholarships to go towards their college future.
This pledge came through the “ADVANCE 100 program” that was started by the Braylon Edwards Foundation and worked to help the education of Cleveland area kids.
Through all the bad news coverage and good news coverage, no one can say Braylon Edwards had a quiet NFL career.
After The NFL
A few years after his retirement, in 2017 Braylon Edwards started working for Big 10 Television.
This program worked to cover Big Ten news and specifically for Edwards, Big Ten Football.
However, Edwards was suspended in 2018 for violating their media guidelines when he took some shots at Michigan on Twitter.
Edwards was known to have a feud with Jim Harbaugh, Michigan’s head coach, and Edwards’ passion for his old team hasn’t died even after 14+ years since he last put on the uniform.
Edwards has continued to make waves even after retiring from the NFL with his wild lifestyle and unfiltered mentality.
The Pro Bowler won’t be silenced and is not afraid to show off his accomplishments proudly.
Edwards is still young, and we have not heard the last from him, whether it be NFL football or Wolverine football, Edwards will have his opinion be made known for many years to come.