Monday, October 5, 2009
Updated: October 6, 12:17 PM ET
Edwards allegedly hit LeBron's friend
BEREA, Ohio -- Braylon Edwards was fighting mad Sunday, exchanging a few blows with one of Cincinnati's massive defensive linemen.
Later, Cleveland's contentious wide receiver allegedly took a swing at someone much smaller but with a towering, more famous friend: LeBron James.
And the King isn't happy about it.
James called Edwards "childish" for allegedly punching his friend early Monday morning following an argument outside a Cleveland night club. The Cavaliers superstar said Edwards punched his friend, Edward Givens, a promoter who was working outside the club around 2:30 a.m. EDT.
"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," a protective and perturbed James said after practice. "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."
Edwards was not available for comment Monday as the Browns regrouped following their 23-20 overtime loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals. He did post a message on his Twitter account, offering praise to James, the NBA's reigning MVP.
"I have no issue with LeBron," Edwards tweeted. "I respect and admire him."
James said he was home when the alleged fight occurred, but got a call from Givens telling him about it at 7 a.m. Monday.
"The situation is very sensitive right now, but it's unfortunate that it happened," James said. "Hopefully my friend is doing well."
Edwards faces possible disciplinary action from the Browns and the league.
The Plain Dealer first reported the incident on its Web site, cleveland.com.
According to a police incident report, Givens accused an unidentified man of punching him in the face following an argument at approximately 2:30 a.m. Givens, who is listed as 5-foot-7, 135 pounds on the report, said the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Edwards hit him with a closed fist. He told police he suffered a black eye and cut and was treated at a hospital.
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.
-- LeBron James
Edwards' name did not appear on the report. He was not arrested and there are no charges pending against him.
His manager issued a statement, hoping to soothe any perceived bitterness or rivalry between two of Cleveland's biggest sports stars.
"Braylon has nothing but the highest respect for LeBron James as an athlete and person," Hayes Grooms said.
Browns coach Eric Mangini was aware of the alleged altercation and said he spoke with Edwards, who did not catch a pass in Sunday's loss -- the first time in 62 career games he did not have at least one reception.
"Personal conduct is very important to me," said Mangini, who has drawn criticism for fining players this season for breaking team rules. "I always want our players to put themselves in the most positive positions. This is something I will continue to gather information on."
Edwards, who has a long list of off-field issues since being drafted by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in 2005, was not in Cleveland's locker room during the portion open to the media.
On Sunday, he drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after getting tangled up with Bengals defensive lineman Pat Sims following a pile-up near the end zone in the third quarter. He was the last Browns player to leave the locker room and Edwards spent several minutes after the game chatting in the corridor with Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
Edwards later went to View Ultralounge & Nightclub, a downtown hot spot located near Quicken Loans Arena.
Givens told the newspaper's Web site that he was outside greeting people when Edwards approached him.
"Braylon comes up and started saying things, degrading me," Givens said. "He said if it wasn't for LeBron [James] or the Four Horsemen [James' friends and business partners], I wouldn't have what I have, nor would I be able to get girls. Everyone knows Braylon has a problem with LeBron.
"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. 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."
The immensely talented Edwards, who is in the final year of his contract with Cleveland, has been a headache for much of his time with the Browns. While recovering from a foot injury -- he cut his heel running in his socks after practice -- last year, he was pulled over in his Bentley for driving 120 mph in a 65 mph zone.
He has dropped passes, criticized Cleveland's play-calling, argued with teammates and famously took a helicopter to the Ohio State-Michigan game in 2006 despite being told not to go.
Edwards was also out partying in March with teammate Donte' Stallworth, who later that night struck and killed a a 59-year-old pedestrian while driving drunk in Miami. Stallworth has been suspended for the season.
Mangini is trying to instill discipline to the Browns, many of whom took advantage of former coach Romeo Crennel's good-natured ways. Mangini wants his players to be accountable on and off the field.
"The thing I love talking about is how much they're doing in the community, who they're helping, how they're playing, all of those positive things," he said. "Sometimes things happen and you address them and you work to find out the best course of action, but the important thing for all of us is to be the best Cleveland Browns we can be."
For all his worldwide adulation, James has managed to keep a squeaky clean image. Without naming Edwards, he said he wished others would follow suit.
"I know how to handle myself as a professional athlete," James said. "I take care of my friends and my family. It's unfortunate that some guys don't understand you're a role model to kids and you should carry [yourself] that way, on and off the court, on and off the field.
"I'm one of the guys that looks at being a professional athlete as more than just being out on the court."