According to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, a drunk-driving offense with no extenuating circumstances (i.e., no injuries or property damage caused) falls under the league's substance abuse policy, where punishments are clearly spelled out. If this is Edwards' first alcohol-related offense (which we don't necessarily know, since first alcohol-related offenses don't need to be reported publicly), it would carry no suspension, only a maximum $50,000 fine from the league.
However, Edwards has been in trouble before -- he was accused of assault last October after a fight in a Cleveland night club shortly before he was traded to the Jets -- and there remains a chance that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could suspend him for a game or two under the personal conduct policy if Goodell determines that the accumulation of bad behavior warrants a punishment.
Should that happen, it would create an interesting and difficult situation for the NFL players' union at a time when relations with the league are already strained over the current collective bargaining agreement negotiations. If the league imposes discipline (the Jets said Tuesday that Edwards will be active for Sunday's game against Miami), the union could find itself having to defend Edwards' behavior according to the letter of the CBA and the substance abuse policy.
Regardless, it's another black eye for the Jets, who last week found themselves the target of a league investigation into players' and coaches' behavior toward a female reporter in the locker room.
"We are very disappointed in Braylon's actions this morning," Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement released by the team. "The Player Protect Program is in place for our organization to prevent this situation. Braylon is aware of this program and showed poor judgment."
The Player Protect Program is a Jets program set up to provide no-questions-asked rides to players at any time. Each Jets player has a phone number he can call if he's had too much to drink or needs a ride anywhere for any other reason. Additionally, the NFL and the NFLPA have for many years administered the league-wide Safe Ride program, which does the same for every player in the NFL. Factor in that Edwards earns millions of dollars per year playing football and that taxi cabs are quite plentiful in Manhattan at 5 a.m., and there's no excuse whatsoever for him to have been driving his own car if his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
The Associated Press reported that pending the outcome of the New York City case, Edwards may have to return Cleveland to face a possible probation violation, which could carry jail time. The Cleveland Municipal Court judge handling his case has been notified of his New York arrest, said court spokesman Ed Ferenc.