One of NFL’s most dynamic wide receivers and perhaps one of their most gifted athletes, Braylon Edwards is known as a deceptive route runner with uncompromising downfield explosiveness. His unique embodiment of agility and strength also allow Edwards to dominate the field as a possession receiver making him a triple threat. Beginning and quitting his football career in the same week at the age of 12, Braylon’s father Stan Edwards, a collegiate football alumnus from the University of Michigan, took the opportunity to teach his son one of life’s most valuable lessons, “Never quit. If there is something, anything you really want to do, don’t let anything stand in your way, never be a quitter.” He encouraged young Edwards to go back and see the season through before making a decision to quit and the rest is history. From that season forward Braylon modeled himself after his football childhood heroes, Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Braylon explains, “Jerry was an extra hard worker on and off the field, he always gave his best, he was the ultimate team guy and always presented himself with their best foot forward.”
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 214
- Age: 29
- Born: 2/21/1983
- Hometown: Detroit, MI
- Experience: 8th season
- College: University of Michigan
- High School: Martin Luther King HS [Detroit, MI]; Bishop Gallagher HS [Harper Woods, MI]
Braylon established himself as a top recruit during his senior year at Bishop Gallagher High Schools and boasting 63 receptions for 740 yards and eight touchdowns. An easy decision, Braylon committed to the University of Michigan, his father’s alma mater where Braylon dominated collegiate football from the 2001-2004 shattering record after record, and even managed to clock the third fastest 200-meter time at 21.81 seconds for Michigan’s track team. Before bursting into the NFL, Braylon set season records for receptions (97) and yards (1,330) as well as career records for 252 receptions, 3, 541 yards and 39 touchdowns, not only a Big Ten record but impressive enough to earn him what he considers his most revered accolade thus far; the Fred Biletnikoff Award. This award is given to the nation’s top wide receiver each year, in Braylon’s words “the award represented the epitome of what I had worked so hard for all those years.” His incredible play also earned him The Big Ten Conference MVP and a consensus All-America selection, but perhaps the most important result of Braylon’s hard work and outstanding performance was being drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft as the third overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. Braylon secured a starting position by midseason of his rookie year. In a short span, Edwards cumulated 512 receiving yards and three touchdowns, with a seemingly effortless break down of opposing defenses. Just as he was getting started, a season-ending knee injury plagued Cleveland’s # 17, but determination carried him through rehab in the off-season for a full recovery in time for his second-year debut. While he had an impressive second year with the Browns, it was Braylon’s third season with the team that fans witnessed the emergence of an incredible talent; a physically imposing stature, at 6’3″, 220 lbs. coupled with lightning speed, Braylon broke franchise records for receiving yardage (1,289) and receiving touchdowns with 16 (ranking him #2 in touchdowns in the NFL in 2007). His impressive play solidified Braylon’s first appearance in the Pro Bowl, the first receiver for the Browns to do so in almost two decades. 2008 was by far Braylon’s toughest year in Cleveland and with a fresh start in mind, Braylon Edwards concluded his time with the Browns and headed to The Big Apple. The New York Jets secured the rising star at a hefty price, trading Chansi Stucky, Jason Trusnik and giving up both the third and fifth round 2010 draft picks. The first season with the Jets also was Braylon’s first trip to the NFL playoffs. New York caught a glimpse of the prolific athleticism they acquired during the 2009 AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts. Braylon helped lead the Jets offensive attack, catching an 80-yard touchdown pass to put the Jets on the board; unfortunately, despite his best efforts, the Jets finished the season with a 30-17 loss. In 12 games of the 2009 season, Edwards stacked 35 catches and 541 yards with four touchdowns. Just completing his sixth NFL regular season, Braylon Edwards racked in 53 catches for 904 yards (league average 358.0) and 7 touchdowns, but conceivably one of Braylon’s most sensational plays as a pro was leaping to complete the Mark Sanchez launched bomb to put the Jets in winning touchdown territory against the Colts this playoff season. His play coined him as “Mr. Clutch” to New Yorkers and football aficionados. Despite off-field turmoil Braylon stayed focus and has been the team’s most consistent receiver at 15.5 per catch average, ranking him 9th in the league. Leading the New York Jets to what the city hopes to be a Super Bowl Title, Braylon Edwards is accomplishing exactly what he set out to do, making his name mean something.
Off the field, the name Braylon Edwards means the most to the students that have benefitted from his social awareness and generosity. The first notable initiative was at the conclusion of the 2006 season, pledging a $500,000 endowment to the University of Michigan towards a scholarship endowment for football players, the largest pledge to the department by a current professional athlete. One year later, Edwards gifted one million dollars to 100 Cleveland college-bound eighth graders as part of his “Advance 100 Program.” Not only does this program fund these lucky 100 junior high students’ college education, but the program also establishes mentors and tutors for the recipients to ensure a high school diploma and success in their secondary education. Braylon’s big heart prompts him to continuously give back, “I feel I have an obligation to focus on education in any city I am in. When there is a need for education among the community’s youth, I feel compelled to help,” Braylon explains. Each year the Braylon Edwards Foundation, headed by his mother and President, Malesa Plater whom he identifies as the biggest influence of all he’s achieved, blesses students/athletes with a means to attain achievement through financial and educational guidance. Calling on his fellow teammates and celebrity connects; Braylon’s charities gain support from some of Hollywood’s most recognized names willing to donate their time to Edward’s charitable causes. As a result, big money is given back to communities in need. A Philanthropist by definition, Braylon was recognized for his acts of goodwill by his hometown of Detroit receiving the “2009 Spirit of Detroit Award” for his continued support to the city.
With all his good, no one escapes occasional mistakes in judgment and this 27-year-old is no exception. Facing some difficult times over these past two years, Braylon continues his journey to be the best version of Braylon both on the gridiron and in the community he is capable of being, “On the field I’m striving for Super Bowls, Pro Bowls and ultimately the Hall of Fame; off-field, I really want to make a difference in the community, I want to do more than sign autographs, As my Mother always told me, God blessed me with an athletic gift, and with hard work, it can be exploited as a stepping stone to make a real impact on the kids and in
the community they live.”