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Don't Blame the Jets for Braylon Edwards Driving Drunk

Players behaving badly is an NFL problem, not a Jets problem

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Sep 23, 2010  |  Updated 8:45 AM EDT
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Braylon Edwards outside of Manhattan court on Tuesday

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On Wednesday morning, we were pretty clear about the feeling that the Jets were not being nearly tough enough in response to Braylon Edwards's DWI arrest early Tuesday morning.

Nothing has changed about that feeling and Rex Ryan's comments about the decision on Wednesday only reinforced that belief.

Ryan said that he was "tired of dealing with some of these issues" and "tired of the embarrassment" and that it was time to bring all of it to an end. But then he went on to say that he was still evaluating Edwards's situation to figure out how much he was going to play the wide receiver. Taken together, it feels like Ryan is trying to figure out how much he values not being embarrassing against possibly losing a game. 

That makes sense for a football coach whose job revolves around wins and losses, which is probably why it shouldn't be his decision, but it doesn't really sound like a way to assure that such behavior stops immediately. That will take a serious response that isn't really in evidence in this situation.

All that said, it is foolish and dishonest to try and make a point that the Jets are somehow to blame for what Edwards did this week. That sentiment seems to be gaining in acceptance around New York and the rest of the football world in the last few days as people try to draw a line from the team they saw eating cheeseburgers on "Hard Knocks" to a decision made by one player. They're loose and undisciplined at practice, the argument goes, so that helped cause Edwards to misbehave or, if you want to continue down that road, caused them to act like 14-year-olds in the presence of a female reporter. 

That's ludicrous. These problems are endemic to the sport not just limited to the Jets. Did you notice all the attention being paid to Vincent Jackson on Wednesday as the Vikings tried to complete a trade for him with the Chargers? Probably, although you'd have to be digging pretty deep to see how his two DWI's were caused by the Jets.

What about Kareem McKenzie of the Giants? Did the fact that he once played for the Jets cause him to get arrested for driving under the influence in 2008? It must have, because the Giants are the classy team in town and only a bunch of ruffians like the Jets would ever allow their player to play the Sunday after getting arrested for doing something so stupid. Except, of course, that McKenzie not only played but started against the Ravens days after he was arrested.

Hell, Tom Coughlin, a guy who gets upset when you wear the wrong socks, called McKenzie "a first-class citizen" in the days following the arrest. At least Ryan is feigning disgust at what Edwards did by getting behind the wheel.

That's just two players but there are many, many more who have gotten behind the wheel after too many pops and found themselves under arrest. They come from just about every team in the league and there's no common thread between those teams other than the fact that they all play in the NFL.  

The Jets are no different than the rest of the NFL -- and, it must be said, most of society -- when it comes to treating drunk driving like a minor nuisance rather than the dangerous crime that can lead to death and injury at any moment. You don't need to look much further than the different ways that Coughlin and Ryan run their teams to make that point crystal clear.

Kill the Jets for the way they've responded to the Edwards situation, but think twice before you accuse them of helping to create it.   

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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