Opinionated WR Edwards says he wants to stay with Browns

BEREA, Ohio -- Braylon Edwards isn't sure he can catch a break, either.

The style-conscious wide receiver, whose drops have defined Cleveland's calamitous season, hopes to repair his rocky relationship with frustrated Browns fans and said he has no intention of asking for a trade, despite his unhappiness or the team's expected upcoming offseason overhaul.

Season Statistics
Catches: 50

Yards: 837

Touchdowns: 3

"I don't want to be traded," Edwards said Thursday. "I want to be here in Cleveland. I want to make plays. I want to have fun, and I just want to enjoy it.

"I don't know, maybe I care too much."

Edwards' passion has never been questioned. But some Browns fans have grown tired of his inconsistent play and showboating ways.

Edwards leads the NFL with 16 drops, and this season, the former first-round draft pick has become a target for fan abuse -- he says because he went to Michigan and most Clevelanders root for Ohio State.

Edwards also believes that fans begrudge him because of the team's infamous championship failures. Denver's John Elway broke Cleveland's heart with a 98-yard drive in the 1986 AFC title game, and one year later, Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled at the goal line in another loss to the Broncos.

The way Edwards sees it, the present-day Browns are haunted by their past.

"I can't apologize for what happened before I got here," he said. "I wasn't a part of 'The Drive.' I didn't fumble at the 1. That wasn't me. I think fans are still disgruntled about that, and they have every right to be because they're fans, but that's not me. I'm Braylon Edwards, and I just want to be Braylon Edwards."

The Browns (4-10) are winding down one of the most disappointing seasons in memory, a severe slide that has been aided by Edwards' crucial drops, including what would have been a long touchdown in a home loss to the Baltimore Ravens that led directly to quarterback Derek Anderson being benched for Brady Quinn.

Edwards has had some positive moments, but his three best games have all come in Cleveland's appearances on Monday Night Football.


"Uhhh, yeah," he said after a pause. "I don't know."

Following Monday's loss in Philadelphia, Edwards said he felt unappreciated by Cleveland fans and that "since Day 1, I've been a marked man coming from Michigan. Even when things are good, there's heckles."

Edwards' postgame comments came across to some as him setting the stage to demand a trade this winter. He swears that's not the case at all.

"Why would I?" he snapped. "I wouldn't ask to be traded."

Edwards revealed Thursday that he and his parents have been harassed in public at restaurants. But he doesn't feel unsafe in Cleveland and hasn't been threatened with physical violence.

As for the anti-Michigan sentiments, Edwards believes it unfairly separates him from his teammates and makes it tougher on him. He's not the first former Wolverine to play in Cleveland as Thom Darden, Steve Everitt and Leroy Hoard -- all Michigan men -- had successful careers with the Browns.

"I'm not making anything up," said Edwards, who's signed through next season. "I'm not reading into anything. I'm telling the truth. The day I got drafted, the first thing you guys said was about my Bentley, and the next comment you made was, 'How do think you're going to fit in with the Browns being that it's O-State country and you're from Michigan?'

"Every time I come up to people, it's O-H-I-O. I'm like, 'I play for the Browns.'"

To his credit, Edwards, who missed three weeks in the preseason after cutting his foot while running after practice in his socks, hasn't used his college choice as an excuse for his statistical slippage. He enters Sunday's game against the Bengals with 50 receptions for 837 yards and three touchdowns this season. Last season, he had 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 TDs.

"I never used me being from Michigan as a copout," he said. "All season, I've owned up to my play. I said I'm not playing well, I'm dropping passes I need to be catching. I never blamed it on the quarterback. I never blamed the offensive coordinator. I never blamed it on anything but me not concentrating and focusing."

No Cleveland team has won a major championship since 1964, a drought that has inevitably led to fans being more cynical and critical of pro athletes, especially one as flashy as Edwards.

Edwards knows football fans here expect more, and he's trying to please them.

"There's been a lot of bad things that have happened here," he said. "We can't ever get over that hump in any sport. I understand their frustration, I really do."

With the Browns facing an uncertain offseason -- both coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage could be fired -- Edwards was asked if he finds the future unsettling.

"I've gotten used to it," he said. "I've played for, what, three or four offensive coordinators? I've played for six, seven quarterbacks. I've experienced a lot of change and adversity since I've been here. All I can do in the offseason is make sure Braylon Edwards is 100 percent fit, come here in shape and be ready to catch passes and help this team out. That's all I can really do. I can't worry about who is going to be here."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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