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According to a recorded interview with Miami Beach police, Donte Stallworth spent the early hours of March 14 partying with fellow teammate Braylon Edwards, among others, before killing a pedestrian later in the morning. In Dave Kolonich's latest piece, he takes a look at all the new details that have emerged about the sequence of events that unfolded on that fateful night ... and wonders if this may turn the court of public opinion against Braylon, who was villified by Browns fans last season.
Well, this could end badly.
According to a recorded interview with Miami Beach police, Donte Stallworth spent the early hours of March 14 partying with fellow teammate Braylon Edwards, among others, before killing a pedestrian later in the morning. Obviously, Edwards was not involved in the fatal crash and does not share any responsibility for what happened to an unlucky Florida pedestrian...which unfortunately is strikingly similar to Stallworth's pedestrian criminal sentence, thanks to money and a backwards system of Florida law.
Stallworth's Interview with Police
However, in the sometimes more just court of public opinion, the details that have emerged regarding Braylon's involvement with Stallworth in the hours leading up to the accident will likely draw the wrath and scorn of most Browns fans. The friction between Braylon and the Cleveland community, which was highlighted by the star wideout's inconsistent play in 2008, could explode after this story makes the rounds in various Cleveland media outlets. Of course, Braylon probably still thinks the fans dislike him primarily for his Michigan roots.
In a recorded interview with police, Stallworth said he met fellow Browns receiver Braylon Edwards and others at a hotel sometime after 2 a.m. on March 14. Stallworth said he drank some tequila from Edwards' table and later bought some shots himself.
"Three, four at the most," Stallworth said. "I wasn't really counting." When asked if he was intoxicated, Stallworth said: "No, sir."
Lab tests later showed Stallworth had a blood-alcohol level of .126, above Florida's .08 limit.
Before continuing, I have to state that I despise moralistic sentiments when it comes to analyzing the private lives of athletes and public figures, so it's pointless to judge Braylon. However, it is worth noting, or at least to wonder, whether some Browns fans and those outside the realm of Cleveland sports, will try to link Stallworth's actions with Braylon, or hold him responsible for what ultimately happened. Let me go on the bloggy record and state that any future commentary regarding Braylon's actions will serve as more of a reflection of his character, rather than expose any legal entanglements.
Edwards, 26, said he and Stallworth had drinks earlier in the day by the pool at the hotel before meeting at the nightclub. A receipt shows that Edwards spent $3,443 that night at the club - including $1,500 on Perrier-Jouet Rose champagne and $695 on Grey Goose vodka - and he said Stallworth didn't seem impaired when they parted ways early the morning of the crash. Edwards had a room at the hotel.
In a completely unrelated note, I'm pretty sure I could buy some of the dives I frequent when visiting the devil's playground of Akron for the amount Braylon spent on drinks. God bless you, Braylon. More importantly, for the sake of defending Braylon, the article notes that unlike Stallworth, he safely deposited himself in a hotel room after the party was over.
"We're friends. If he were anything outside himself, I would have told him to stay here. He looked OK. He looked fine," Edwards said in a recorded statement.
Stallworth's credit card receipts shows he bought a $375 bottle of Patron Silver that he sent to Edwards' table, five shots of the tequila for $90, a water and a Red Bull energy drink. Stallworth said some of the shots were for female friends.
However, it will be interesting to see what the reaction is regarding Braylon's statement. Unfortunately, I sense a backlash that could mount against Braylon, as some readers may interpret his statement as not being responsible regarding the condition of Stallworth, and the consequences that resulted.
Finally, I find the Red Bull purchase highly entertaining. As many readers have pointed out in the past weeks, Braylon's 2008 history of dropped passes could be a direct result of getting the shakes from chugging a pre-game Five Hour Energy. For Browns fans who support this theory, it looks you are in for another long season. And for Braylon's sake, let's hope he isn't about to lose an endorsement deal.
The toxicology analysis also confirms reports that Stallworth tested positive for marijuana in addition to alcohol. Neither Stallworth nor Edwards mentioned any use of marijuana.
This could be the kicker in terms of further speculation. Again, the actions of Stallworth cannot be linked to Braylon, but suspicion will likely remain. Also, if this story develops, it is possible that the John Wayne of the NFL, Roger Goodell, could take a deeper look, which could mean some increased heat coming Braylon's way.
Speaking of another look, here's Pro Football Talk.com's Gregg Rosenthal's post.
Edwards Partied with Stallworth on Night of Accident
Braylon Edwards thought Donte' Stallworth was fine. Otherwise, he would have stopped his friend from driving the morning of March 14, when Stallworth ultimately killed a pedestrian, Mario Reyes.
Edwards' involvement in the night was learned Tuesday, when evidence was released after a public records request from the Associated Press.
"We're friends. If he were anything outside himself, I would have told him to stay here. He looked OK. He looked fine," Edwards said in a recorded statement to the police.
Edwards told the authorities how he and Stallworth had drinks earlier in the day at a hotel pool. They met up again after 2 A.M. and Stallworth admitted to taking shots of tequila.
"Three, four at the most," Stallworth said. "I wasn't really counting."
When interviewed, Stallworth said he was not intoxicated. The toxicology analysis indicated Stallworth tested postive for marijuana, although Edwards and Stallworth didn't mention using the substance. Shocker.
The other details from the night shine a light on the extravagant life of an NFL player, at least when that player was taken in the top three picks of the draft.
Edwards spent $3,443 at the club, including $1,500 on Perrier-Jouet Rose champagne and $695 on Grey Goose vodka. (No word on whether he dropped any bottles.)
Edwards has had difficulties with his image and can't be thrilled this news is becoming public just before a contract year. Stallworth, currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for DUI manslaughter, has far greater problems.
So far, Braylon has only been convicted of being filthy rich...and being unwilling to incriminate himself, according to PFT.com. Of course, as Rosenthal points out, Braylon's future earning power could be hurt if this story further develops. For a player who already struggles with the mental and emotional aspects of the game, the presence of this story could further distract Braylon in 2009. And as most Browns fans are aware, the last thing Braylon needs are more distractions.
However, in the dead early weeks of July, this story and the subsequent opinions that will be delivered by fans could further tarnish Braylon's image and his role on the team. The coming days should be very interesting.
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