Edwards plays the game one way, leads life another Safety keeps injury out of his mind

December 04, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- Brad Edwards acts and looks more like a Boy Scout than a pro football player off the field.

Since he has a lean build at 6 feet 2 and 207 pounds and plays the pia- no as a hobby, it wasn't surprising to hear the Washington Redskins safety say last Sunday: "I'm a totally different person off the field. I'm not aggressive. I don't like violence. I'm very into my religion. But this game is supposed to be played hard. That's the way I've got to play. As hard as I can with all the effort that I can."

Edwards spoke those words before he learned that Dennis Byrd of the New York Jets was partially paralyzed last Sunday when he ran into a teammate while trying to sack Kansas City quarterback Dave Krieg.

"I couldn't even think about that for two days. I've been in the same situation where I've lost the feeling in parts of my body. It's a scary thing," he said yesterday.

That happened to Edwards a year ago on Oct. 6 when he collided with Neal Anderson of the Chicago Bears.

"I had a couple of minutes where I couldn't feel anything. That's real scary. Fortunately for me, the feeling came back. His helmet hit me right in the base of the neck and it kind of stretches all those nerves in the neck. It was kind of a calm moment because you can't move. You can't get wild. It's different. You're not in that position very often so you don't know what to do," he said.

The incident happened late in the first half and he came back and played the whole second half.

"I didn't even think about it [in the second half]. That happened to me before Mike Utley and Danny Peebles had their accidents. I don't know if I would have felt the same way if my incident happened after theirs. That kind of gets you thinking a little bit," he said.

He was referring to the separate injuries in two games on Nov. 17, 1991, when Utley, the Detroit Lions' offensive lineman, was paralyzed and Peebles, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver, was carried off after a collision. Peebles made a complete recovery, but was advised to retire.

The Byrd injury reminded him how dangerous the game can be.

"The speed of the game in some ways might be outgrowing the growth of the maturity of the body to be able to handle it," he said.

Edwards admits he copes with the situation by not giving it much thought on the field.

"You're told early on not to think about an injury, [that] as soon as you start to think about it, you're going to get hurt again. So I think you kind of build a way to deal with it," he said.

Edwards' father, Wayne, was an infielder in the Orioles' organization from 1962 to '65, and baseball was Brad's favorite sport. But he was the quarterback on his high school team in Fayetteville, N.C., and when the team's free safety, Donnell Woolford, who's now with the Chicago Bears, was injured late in his senior year, Edwards volunteered to double up and play safety.

He immediately liked the position and was recruited as a defensive player at South Carolina and that was the end of his baseball career. A dean's list student, he started three years and was drafted on the second round by the Minnesota Vikings in 1988.

After playing as a backup for two years, he was left unprotected on Plan B in 1990. The Redskins signed him and he became a starter last season. He directed the defense in the Super Bowl year and capped it by intercepting two passes in the Super Bowl.

He had his biggest game yet last Sunday when he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for intercepting three passes and causing a fumble in the Redskins' 41-3 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals.

It was typical of Edwards that he gave his teammates credit for putting a lot of pressure on quarterback Timm Rosenbach.

"A lot of it is just getting opportunities," he said. "A lot of weeks you just flat don't get opportunities to make plays."

That's Edwards. He's a low-key, mild-mannered type -- off the field.

NOTES: DT Eric Williams, who suffered an abdomen injury a week ago, is going to miss the final four games of the regular season. He's not healing quickly so the team has decided to put him on the injured reserve list. Since they don't have any free moves left from the IR list during the regular season, they're going to replace him with a player they put on waivers. They're going to try it first with John Brandes, who was put on the waiver wire yesterday. They'll find out today if he clears and can rejoin the team. Although he's a tight end, Brandes helps mainly on special teams. . . . The only other tight end on the IR list is Don Warren, but he's not eligible to return until Dec. 26. Since he's 36 and has a bad shoulder, he's seriously considering retiring. . . . RG Mark Schlereth didn't practice again with his bad knee, but is still expected to start. With Ed Simmons or Joe Jacoby likely to return at right tackle this week, Ray Brown will move back to left guard and Raleigh McKenzie will be back at center. Rookie Matt Elliott will go back to the bench if they all stay healthy.

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