New York Jets star wide receiver Braylon Edwards told a police officer he’d been partying and drinking before being pulled over in his luxury SUV, but he suggested letting him leave the car and go home, prosecutors said as he was arraigned Tuesday on drunken-driving charges.
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A solemn Edwards was released without bail in a case that could compound his legal troubles while he’s on probation after a fracas in Cleveland last year. He declined to discuss the drunken-driving arrest as he left a Manhattan courthouse, thronged by reporters.
”There will be plenty of time to talk. I’ll address everybody,” said Edwards, wearing a black T-shirt and fashionably torn gray jeans.
Defense lawyer Peter M. Frankel said Edwards was exhausted and focused on getting back to his team.
”Obviously, this is very difficult for him,” Frankel said. ”Without question, absolutely, he understands the seriousness of the situation, and he is committed to getting back on the football field and doing what he does best for the Jets.”
A breath test showed Edwards had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit after he was stopped on Manhattan’s West Side around 5 a.m. Tuesday, prosecutors said. Chief police spokesman Paul Browne said officers on the lookout for such violations as overly tinted windows stopped Edwards because his Land Rover’s windows were too dark and then noticed a strong smell of alcohol.
Authorities said there were four other people in the SUV, and the Jets confirmed Tuesday that starting left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and defensive end Vernon Gholston were among them. Neither of those players was charged.
Edwards told an officer he’d had ”a couple of drinks,” the last about an hour before, assistant district attorney Alyssa Gunther said.
”We were coming from a party. How about if I just leave the car and take a cab and go home?” he asked, according to Gunther.
Edwards also quizzed the officer about why he wasn’t first given a field sobriety test, saying ”they do it in Michigan,” where he was a college standout, and questioned the basis for his arrest, Gunther said.
”Why was I stopped for having tints if my driving didn’t lead you to believe I was drunk driving?” Edwards asked, according to prosecutors.
It’s unclear where Edwards was coming from or going. Teammate Jerricho Cotchery told WFAN-AM Tuesday morning that Edwards and other Jets had attended a Manhattan event Monday night for Cotchery’s nonprofit foundation benefiting underprivileged youths.
Edwards was charged with driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, and driving while impaired, a violation. He’s due back in court Nov. 9. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.
While awaiting the outcome of the New York case, Edwards may have to return Cleveland to face a possible probation violation, which could carry jail time. The Cleveland Municipal Court judge handling his case has been notified of his New York arrest, court spokesman Ed Ferenc said.
In January, Edwards was placed on probation for 18 months after pleading no contest to misdemeanor aggravated disorderly conduct; he’d been accused of punching a friend of NBA star LeBron James outside a Cleveland nightclub. The Cleveland Browns traded Edwards to the Jets two days after the October nightclub encounter.
Edwards also could be in line for an NFL suspension for violations of league policies on alcohol and player conduct.
The NFL had no comment, but Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Edwards had shown poor judgment.
”We are very disappointed in Braylon’s actions this morning,” Tannenbaum said in a statement. ”We are reviewing the information with the league and will impose the appropriate disciplinary measures.”
Tannenbaum noted that the Jets provide players with the option of calling for a driver to take them home if they are out having drinks.
Edwards had a big game for the Jets in their 28-14 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday, catching five passes, including a touchdown and two-point conversion. He was penalized for taunting – he danced in front of the defensive back covering him – after his 10-yard TD catch, and coach Rex Ryan clearly wasn’t happy on the sideline, shaking his head.
The former first-round pick said during the Jets’ playoff run last season that he wanted to finish his career in New York. He signed a contract tender with the Jets in March worth $6.1 million and will be a free agent after this season.