Suspended Edwards apologizes but doubles down on UM football criticism

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Braylon Edwards

Ann Arbor — Former Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards, indefinitely suspended by the Big Ten Network after taking pointed shots on social media at specific Michigan players for their performances in the loss to Notre Dame last Saturday night, apologized to them but is not backing off his feelings about the program overall.

Edwards, Michigan’s all-time leading receiver and an analyst for BTN, deleted the tweet from Saturday night that set off a flurry of response from fans, but it was, of course, frozen in screenshots.  He was critical of center Cesar Ruiz and quarterback Shea Patterson and called Michigan football “trash.”

“Ruiz is weak, line is weak, shea is scared, (expletive) Michigan offense is so predictable … Michigan football is sadly one thing … Trash,” Edwards wrote.

On Monday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he was “disappointed” Edwards criticized the character of his players. Edwards, in a phone interview with The Detroit News on Monday afternoon, said he was sorry for singling out players but maintained his critical assessment regarding the Michigan football program under Harbaugh.

“Was the original tweet a little excessive?” Edwards told The Detroit News. “I admit I was excessive and emotional and inebriated. Mix those together. But the focus of my tweets remains intact. I stand by that. I was over-excessive Saturday night at 10:29, but I don’t back down on my overall stance as an alum and a fan. I’ve always defended Michigan. Even this year, I was high on Michigan.”

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Edwards admitted it was a mistake to mention Ruiz and Patterson. His brother, Berkley Edwards, is a running back on the team and Edwards said he plans to reach out to both players through his brother.

“I apologize for that,” Edwards said. “I’m a man. We make mistakes. I’m sorry. I should not have gone that way. I still agree with the overall message – what do we do now (as a program)? But I apologize – shouldn’t name individual players. They’re still kids. That’s what I apologize for.

“People did that to me. (Former Michigan coach) Lloyd (Carr) called me out in the media. I didn’t (complain) and moan. Do I wish I had done it differently? I would not have called out Cesar Ruiz and Shea Patterson. You’re not supposed to do that, and I shouldn’t have. It should have been an overall message about the program.”

The Big Ten Network issued a statement Monday saying the suspension was made effective Sunday. In the release, BTN said Edwards had violated “the network’s social media guidelines.”

 “They said I was a little aggressive in my social media handling,” Edwards said. “I said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I went a little hard, I’m sorry.’ I went to Michigan, I know better. But it gets to the point, it’s emotional.”

Harbaugh took exception to Edwards’ tweet during his weekly Monday news conference.

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“No. 1, first of all, it’s not true. It’s not factual,” Harbaugh said. “There’s nobody in our program who thinks those things about any player on our team, let alone the two players he describes. On the other level, I was disappointed a member of the Big Ten Network would choose to attack the character of two of our players. That’s disappointing.

“And, I would say, if somebody wants to attack the character of anybody on the ballclub, then come after me. I don’t think it’s right. It’s not true. And nobody in the program thinks that about any player on our team. Just so you know that’s not coming from anybody inside the program.”

Before the suspension was announced, Harbaugh was asked if he would recommend to BTN that Edwards be reprimanded.

“We’ll handle things within the program,” Harbaugh said. “That’s all we control.”

Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary did not see the tweet but had a message for those who single out players in that way.

“I feel like at the end of the day, we’re college students, we’re college football players, and we love what we do,” Gary said. “We take it to heart, so I feel like for someone to stab at somebody – I didn’t see the tweet – but to take shots at a player, and you’re a grown man, I don’t think that’s cool. But it is what it is.”

Edwards said he is not concerned about negativity toward him for sharing his opinions about the team or for that specific tweet. He was riled, he said, after the Wolverines’ 24-17 season-opening loss at Notre Dame. Michigan has not won a game against a ranked team on the road since 2006.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Edwards said. “My head coach once told me we're not on the same page. I’ve been through DUIs. I’ve been through so much, so I don’t care. I’m tough. I can eat this. It doesn’t bother me.

“The backlash doesn’t bother me. But ultimately, my thing is, we have to address the issue. They’re 0-17 against ranked teams on the road. You’ve had 40 games in your tenure (Harbaugh) to figure it out. I understand he is 13 seconds and one inch away from being 3-3 (against rivals). Now it would be 3-4. It’s been one of those situations everyone is always waiting for Michigan to turn the corner. I’m a Michigan alum waiting for them to turn the corner.”

Edwards, two days removed from the game, had a more positive assessment of Patterson’s performance in the season opener. Patterson was making his first start for the Wolverines after transferring from Ole Miss last December.

“He didn’t have a bad game,” Edwards said. “He cramped up (in the fourth quarter), but he can’t get the ball down the field. Michigan’s issue is they don’t have anyone who can transcend games like Denard Robinson, Jeremy Gallon, Mike Hart and Chad Henne, Mario Manningham, Devin Funchess when he was a tight end. They have no one who can transcend a game.  If Ambry Thomas doesn’t score that kickoff return (at Notre Dame), it’s an ass-whooping.

“I don’t understand how we have not gotten better as an overall program. This was our chance to step up in the spotlight and it didn’t happen. You lose to Notre Dame, and they have a higher ranking, but they’re not a better ball club than us. Two days ago was a chance for you to get the monkey off your back. If you go to Notre Dame and win, you’ve got a win against a rival, and we would have forgotten about the last three years and be excited. It didn’t happen. You get outcoached in big situations. Look at the second half of Penn State last year, the fourth quarter against Ohio State and fourth quarter against Wisconsin. Michigan was outcoached again.”