Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Braylon Edwards punches friend of LeBron James, what’s going on in Cleveland?

Let’s see. This past summer the Cleveland Cavaliers were picked by many experts to win the NBA Championship last season. Instead they got beat in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic. No LeBron versus Kobe. A dejected LeBron James stormed off the court and acted like a sore loser instead of being humbly professional.

Then there’s Cleveland wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who gets hammered in Miami Beach and kills a man who was crossing a busy street in the wee hours of the morning. Stallworth was partying with teammate Braylon Edwards before the unfortunate incident took place. Now Stallworth sits at his place on house arrest.

Last week, after a woeful baseball season Cleveland Indian manager and Fort Wayne, Indiana native Eric Wedge gets a pink slip from management because the team wasn’t able to live up to expectations.

Days ago I witnessed the Cleveland Browns drop an overtime game to the Cincinnati Bengals putting their record at 0-4. Head coach Eric Mangini was brought in to right the ship after a 4-12 season in 2008. His discipline doesn’t seem to be working out too well. Some fans are calling for owner Randy Lerner to oust Mangini already.

Finally there’s Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards. After not catching a pass in the 23-20 loss to the Bengals he was out with teammates Monday morning at a Cleveland night club. He engaged in a verbal altercation with Edward Givins who is a good friend of LeBron James. As the argument got heated Edwards reportedly hit Givins giving him a black eye and a cut lip.

What’s going on in Cleveland? Is there something in the water?

This is Givins take on what transpired with Edwards, "After the club closed, I was outside greeting and saying goodbye to people. Braylon comes up and started saying things, degrading me," Givens told the Plain-Dealer. "He said if it wasn't for LeBron [James] or the Four Horsemen, I wouldn't have what I have, nor would I be able to get girls. Everyone knows Braylon has a problem with LeBron. So I had to speak up for myself. The conversation started to escalate. As some of his teammates started to pull him back, he punched me. I have a black eye and a cut. I'm not a violent guy.”

Givins continued, "As long as I've known Braylon, I've allowed him and his friends to come into our events free of charge. Whatever jealousy he has with LeBron, he felt he needed to take it out on me."

After a Cavalier practice yesterday LeBron stated the following to the Associated Press, "I've never crossed paths with Braylon before, but it seems like there's a little jealousy going on with Braylon and me and my friends. I have no idea why. I've never said anything to Braylon at all. But for him to do that is very childish. My friend is 130 pounds. Seriously. It's like hitting one of my kids. It doesn't make sense." Are you kidding me? This is the epitome of childishness. It makes little sense that situations like this transpire.

Here’s my take. If there is jealousy on Edwards’ part it should be squashed. I can see if Edwards was one of the top receivers in the NFL and helping the Browns make the playoffs but that hasn’t happened.

Bottom line, Edwards is a mega-millionaire who hasn’t produced. If he’s jealous of LeBron perhaps he should translate that energy into catching more balls and scoring more touchdowns.

In 2007 when quarterback Derek Anderson was the prohibitive starter Edwards caught 80 balls for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Excluding 2007 Edwards has caught only 12 touchdowns in the other four years of his career. He entered the Bengals contest with 10 catches and left with the same amount because he didn’t catch any.

Perhaps Edwards should have been traded instead of Kellen Winslow Jr.?

But let’s take this to another level. Edwards, like LeBron, are marquee African American athletes with huge platforms. They, and other athletes, can make a world of difference if they channeled their energies collectively. How about finding a cause and work together to provide more opportunities for the oppressed in society and sport?

I was fortunate enough to have a very brief conversation with the greatest Cleveland Brown of them all Jim Brown after the Sunday’s game. In his day such behavior that LeBron displayed after losing to the Orlando Magic and what Edwards exhibited by punching LeBron’s friend wouldn’t have happened.

In Browns day he was too busy fighting racism, taking stands, and assembling African American athletes to be model citizens and exude professionalism. Brown was doing this while being at the apex of his sport. I’m quite sure Brown didn’t endure the bitter cruelties for African American athletes to act like this. He, along with other athletic activists, created the opportunities for the African American athlete to have a level playing field in society and sport.

Many of today’s African American athletes are simply selfish. They worry about their money, image and contracts yet few really study history. They don’t even know who is responsible for them having the opportunities they have today.

Perhaps if Edwards and James worked together to rid societal ills they wouldn’t have time to be jealous, get in fights or act unprofessionally after playoff losses.

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