BY Manish Mehta
For all the criticism that Braylon Edwards took during his time with the Cleveland Browns, here’s an impactful story that deserves to be told.
Edwards, who will be a free agent when the NFL labor impasse is resolved, fulfilled a promise today that he made to 100 eight-graders in Cleveland years ago. On May 16, 2007, Edwards promised $1 million in academic scholarship money toward college tuitions at the start of the ADVANCE 100 Program, an educational initiative established by the Braylon Edwards Foundation, in the Cleveland Municipal School District. Students and their parents signed a pledge at the time to fulfill their end of the bargain: Graduate from high school.
The students were provided academic assistance through tutors, mentors, and workshops throughout the process. Edwards, who was just in his third year in the NFL when he decided to give back to the community, had two requirements for the students: 1) Provide 15 hours of community service annually and 2) Maintain a 2.5 or better grade point average.
During the next couple years, Edwards was vilified by Cleveland Browns fans for his performance on the field. He was traded to the Jets early in the 2009 season after an alleged altercation with a member of LeBron James’ circle of friends outside a club in downtown Cleveland. (James, of course, has become the most despised athlete in Cleveland).
Edwards, who has expressed his desire to re-sign with the Jets, relayed the news of the program’s completion on Wednesday through a series of tweets.
“As the 2nd most hated man in Clev. & a man of my word,” Edwards tweeted, “today I will honor a promise made to 100 students in Cleveland years ago. The last of my Advance 100 students will graduate from my program and head off to college on scholarships that I will provide them with. Guys enjoy & embrace your new beginnings and remember your promise to me, to reach back & help someone else along the way.”
Whether Edwards is liked now by Browns fans or not, his efforts to help the youth of the Cleveland area should be lauded.
It’s simply a great story.