Braylon Edwards Returns–Fans Need To Take the High Road

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 02: Braylon Edwards of the New York Jets sits on the bench during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)If Braylon Edwards scores a touchdown in his return to Cleveland Browns Stadium this Sunday, I’m preparing myself to witness a LeBron James impersonation in the end zone. That’s the cruelest and most obvious insult he could deliver in those 15 seconds of glory.

I just want to be ready, and if Braylon gets his moment, he is going all the way.

Thing is, let’s say he does slap Browns fan with the most emphatic F*YOU ever, something he’s been hyping all week, would it really matter? Anything he actually does is only going to make him look worse, so let him.

Cleveland fans are above Braylon and the games he wants to play, so the best thing for us to do is practice taking the high road. The only way Braylon can win is if we let him win.

On a personal note, I ended up writing this post a few times. I wrote a version with a list of clever chants fans could yell at Braylon. I wrote a version that was a memo to Roger Goodell, imploring him to pay attention to this game and factor any unsportsmanlike conduct he witnesses into Braylon’s upcoming DUI suspension.

I tried very hard to write something that would crystallize how much I personally despise Braylon. He has a vendetta against the city of Cleveland and Browns fans, and that is about me. It’s personal.

Then, I found myself watching the video below… I think I originally wanted to use it as an example of how angry Cleveland sports fans can get. But a couple minutes in, all my feelings from that day came rushing back, and I realized more than ever what was so ugly about it. We let ourselves down.

Cleveland Browns Bottlegate (Original)

I was there. Do I think the Browns got cheated that day? Of course they did. That was one of the most shameful moments in NFL officiating, ever. But everything the officials and the league did wrong that day was overshadowed by what we did wrong. We let ourselves down because we sank to a lower level.

And that is the only payoff Braylon is hoping for.

So let’s take ourselves out of this childish equation. This is Braylon worrying about what we did to him, how we booed him, how we didn’t worship him. He is who he is.

We can’t change people, especially from the stands at a football game. No matter how loud we boo, no matter how many clever chants we come up with, it won’t change what Braylon does, says, or thinks. And with that, there’s nothing he could say or do to change us. We are who we are too.

I think we need to come to peace with that, we need to practice it. Don’t fall into any trap Braylon tries to set for you. Take the high road.

Even better think of it this way: we already have the high road now.

No matter what happens, win or lose, drop or touchdown, Braylon will always be:

  • Someone who came out on Veterans Day and referred to this upcoming game as “a personal war.”
  • Someone who was arrested for driving drunk a year before he became a free agent, and a year after one of his teammates ended a man’s life while driving drunk.

We’re better than that.

So if he decides to trot out there and toss some powder in the air as a way to get back at us for whatever grudge he feels is important, let him. If he’s got something even meaner up his sleeve, try not to worry about it. He’s only going to look worse than he already does.

The only way he will succeed is if we make him look like the victim he wants to be. Braylon wants this to be about him, but if we can ignore his antics, he becomes invisible, and being invisible is clearly what Braylon hates most.

If we aren’t prepared to rise above, if we act irrationally, if someone throws something at him during the TD celebration he feels is so important, the entire city will suffer. We would shift the negative spotlight off of Braylon and onto us, just like we did during Bottlegate. We would surrender the high road.

So my recommendation would be to prepare yourself for the worst, then, try to let it go. Picture that faux-LeBron dunk over the goal post, starring by Mr. Edwards. Prepare yourself for all the tormented feelings that will shoot through your body. Then, imagine yourself shrugging the whole thing off. Don’t ask yourself if we are better than Braylon, know we are. That’s the high road.

Cleveland is a good city. Just because Braylon Edwards is hell-bent on proving to everyone it’s not doesn’t mean he’s right. Know Cleveland in your heart.

In the end he’ll be gone on Monday, but a moment like Bottlegate will linger much longer.

Good luck, and go Browns.

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