Another Mistake By The Lake??

By Terry Pluto
Updated: October 6, 2009

CLEVELAND — It’s hard to know exactly what happened at the View nightclub on Prospect Avenue in Cleveland at about 2:30 a.m. Monday, but it wasn’t good for Braylon Edwards or the Browns.

The receiver has been accused of assault by a friend of LeBron James. Not exactly great news for an 0-4 team wanting to create some optimism.

Browns coach Eric Mangini wanted an upbeat Monday news conference. In the 23-20 overtime loss to Cincinnati, the Browns began to play the type of football inspiring the demanding coach to use words such as “unselfish” and “tough” and “hardworking” to describe the effort.

Derek Anderson had a strong day at quarterback, Jerome Harrison ran for 129 yards, and rookie Mohamed Massaquoi caught eight passes. The defense was gritty. Joshua Cribbs and the special teams were spectacular.

Then there was Edwards, who headed for a night on the town after the game. Mangini said little about the incident, other than “personal conduct [of players] is very important.”

You could sense Mangini steaming inside. The coach knows the Bengals game can begin to move the Browns in the right direction, especially with a trip to 1-3 Buffalo on Sunday. For the first time in his five-year career, Edwards did not catch a pass in a game.

He also watched Massaquoi become an immediate fan favorite.

The rookie from Georgia caught balls with his fingertips while running full speed. He caught a few when he stopped, and the ball was slightly behind him. He caught passes in traffic over the middle. He made every type of catch you’d want from a receiver.

He also didn’t drop anything.

As for Edwards, he had a 10-yard pass clang off his hands in the first quarter, and he was booed. He probably didn’t like the response of the home crowd. But what can you expect when you have dropped more balls than any other NFL player over the past two years?

It didn’t take long for quarterback Anderson to look elsewhere. He threw 13 passes to Massaquoi, eight to Steve Heiden and seven each to Harrison and Mike Furrey. None of this could have made Edwards happy. He was annoyed after the game, complaining about a story written about him earlier in the week.

He also had this to say when it was announced the Browns had changed quarterbacks: “It’s something I’ve dealt with for five years now. . . . I’m not even worried about it anymore. I signed a five-year deal.”

Sure sounds like he has one foot out the door, at least in his mind.

Edwards has made major donations to Cleveland’s public schools and other organizations. He can present himself well and, at times, has the right actions matching good intentions.

But he believes Browns fans don’t like him because he went to Michigan, as if those dropped passes have nothing to do with the negative reaction. He also has said some critical things about James, whom he took to task for wearing a Yankees cap.

“LeBron isn’t a Cleveland guy,” Edwards told reporters in 2008. “LeBron only plays for the Cavaliers, and who knows if he even likes the Cavaliers?”

He seems to resent the positive treatment given the Cavs star by fans and media.

But transforming the franchise in your backyard from a loser to a championship contender along with winning the Most Valuable Player award will buy a lot of public adulation and respect.

Rarely does James say anything negative about anyone, but Monday he told reporters: “I’ve never crossed paths with Braylon before, but it seems like there is a little jealously going on with Braylon and me and my friends. I have no idea why. I’ve never said anything to Braylon at all.”

James then added: “I know how to handle myself as a professional athlete, and I take care of my friends and my family. It is unfortunate that some guys don’t understand that.”

Clearly, that is something No. 17 in the Browns jersey needs to learn.