After being a top receiver at the University of Michigan and being third pick for the 2005 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, Detroit native Braylon Edwards has successfully broken into the professional football world. With his recent accomplishments, Edwards said he is now striving to make an impact—but not just on the football field.
“Young people may be impressed by what they see me accomplish on the field, but I want them to be influenced by what I do in the community,” Edwards said.
Specifically, Edwards’ love for his hometown Detroit motivated him to create “Helmets for High Schools,” an initiative designed to increase safety on the football field by upgrading existing equipment.
“Helmets for High Schools” provided 400 new football helmets to Detroit’s public high schools at the program’s kickoff ceremony on Feb. 3 at Detroit’s Kettering High School.
The initiative was a partnership between the Braylon Edwards Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at addressing and meeting the health, fitness and education needs of youth in Detroit and Cleveland, and Eastbay, the world’s largest direct-mail athletic footwear and apparel company.
“It means a lot for me to come back and do what I can for the community,” Edwards said. “I love Detroit. It’s my heart and my home.”
Dick Johnson, Eastbay president, said he was equally excited to be a partner in the project.
“It feels great to be a part of this,” Johnson said. “We know athletics are important to schools, and we are proud to be associated with Braylon Edwards and his foundation.”
The new helmets, products of Schutt Helmet Company, were given in an effort to help Detroit student athletes lower the risk of head injuries on the football field. The program was an effort much appreciated by Leroy Bougard, Kettering High School’s athletic director and vice principal.
“When you’re playing with brand new equipment, especially the high-tech quality of these helmets, it allows you to perform more safely,” said Bougard. “Some of our equipment is outdated so I am so grateful that Braylon thought of us.”
Bougard said Edwards’ homecoming had great sentimental value to him as well, as he also worked at Kettering when Edwards’ father, former Houston Oiler and Detroit Lion Stanley Edwards, attended the high school.
“It is a tribute in itself just to have their family come back to the school,” Bougard said. “I’m just gratified that I was able to see their success. For Stanley to acknowledge that I had something to do with mentoring him is a great feeling.”
Edwards, who ended his first season with the Cleveland Browns with 32 catches, 512 yards and three touchdowns, said he wanted to start giving back as soon as he was able—and he doesn’t plan on stopping with helmets.
“It’s always nice to talk about what is needed, but I wanted to do something about it,” Edwards said. “I think it’s important for me to do what I can now instead of waiting 10 years into the league. I just want to give back to the community that gave so much to me.
“It’s helmets today, but eventually I want to help out in areas other than sports, such as educational scholarships. My goal is to help out in whatever way I can.”
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