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Jets Talk Tough, Then Punt on Braylon Edwards

Wide receiver will be in the lineup on Sunday night

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Jets wide receiver realizes he has become an unnecessary distraction for his team. (Published Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010)

    In the hours after Braylon Edwards was arrested for being behind the wheel of a car with a .16 blood alcohol level, the Jets talked tough about the way they'd handle the wide receiver they picked up on the cheap because he was considered a character risk.

    "We are reviewing the information with the league and will impose the appropriate disciplinary measures."

    Calling the ultimate resolution discipline stretches the definition of that word to its very limits. Edwards will be in uniform on Sunday night in Miami, but he won't start and when he enters the game will be up to Rex Ryan. Ryan could choose not to play him, but NFL teams aren't in the habit of wasting roster spots and intentionally trying to lose games so there's a pretty good chance that Edwards will be split wide before the first half is over.

    Hey, can't let a little thing like risking countless lives, including the lives of two teammates, get in the way of a Super Bowl season. Clearly it is more important to stick to your big words from "Hard Knocks" than your big words in the wake of a shameful arrest.

    The Jets claim their hands are tied by a collective bargaining agreement that bars teams from suspending players for alcohol-related offenses, but if there was ever a time to pick a fight with a labor union this is it.

    Make the union stand up and defend the rights of a man who chose to drive even though the Jets have a program offering free rides home to intoxicated players. Make them stand up to defend the rights of a man who partied with Donte Stallworth in the hours before Stallworth killed a man while driving drunk. Force Edwards, a free agent after this season, to stand up and say he was being mistreated by a team that is giving him a chance to rehab his image.

    We're all aware that the Jets didn't care about being seen as the scruffy bad boys of the NFL after their HBO moment in the spotlight, but at least that stopped short of being an affront to the people who spend their time and money supporting the team. The boorish behavior displayed during Ines Sainz's visit to the team was bad enough, but this is a whole other level of disregard for those who expect adults to act like adults.

    And, while we're at it, shame on the NFL for not fighting harder during labor negotiations to be able to punish players for things that actually matter. This Edwards business is example A, but it would be wonderful to hear an explanation for how Giants running back Brandon Jacobs gets fined $10,000 for trying to brain fans with his helmet when Chad Ochocinco gets fined $25,000 for tweeting during a game? The league is seriously, seriously warped when being a violent menace or drunk driver is considered less offensive than interacting with fans.

    When Woody Johnson was asked about acquiring players with questionable pasts, he said that character meant everything. Luckily for him, he didn't say what kind of character because the team hasn't been showing much of it so far this season.   

    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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