The punch line to a bar fight in which Braylon Edwards is implicated? It could be one of the last straws that keeps the 2007 Pro Bowler from being pursued to stay with the Browns after 2009.

Once upon a time, Braylon Edwards co-starred in a mildly amusing McDonald’s commercial with Charlie Frye.

By December of their rookie year, 2005, the duo seemed destined to be a long-term-combo meal ticket.

Frye had replaced Trent Dilfer as the Browns' quarterback, and Edwards was living up to his draft status as a rookie No. 3 overall pick.

They were magical together in a late home game, connecting for two touchdowns and a lead against a Jacksonville team headed for a 12-4 record. Edwards blew out a knee late in the game.

Frye is long gone. In the wake of an embarrassing bar fight that left LeBron James calling Edwards names, it is hard to picture Edwards in Cleveland much longer, and certainly not in 2010.

Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini would only hint at what happened at 2:30 a.m. Monday outside the View Ultralounge and Nightclub, across the street from Quicken Loans Arena, about nine hours after Edwards left Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“It’s something that I am aware of,” Mangini said. “It is something that I spoke with Braylon about, and personal conduct is very important to me. 

“This is something I will continue to gather information on.”

James conducted his own investigation, indicating Edwards was “very childish” for slugging his friend, Edward Givens.

Edwards’ teammates weren’t touching the story with a 10-foot pole.

“Anything can be a distraction,” cornerback Brandon McDonald said. “I’m focused on trying to get a win at Buffalo.”

“I don’t have a clue what happened,” tight end Robert Royal said. “I can’t comment.”

There is plenty of information to suggest Edwards won’t be in Cleveland beyond his five-year contract that expires when the 2009 season does. To wit:

- It’s doubtful Mangini likes Edwards well enough to offer the megabucks Edwards will seek.

- Edwards has said his Michigan background hurts him in Ohio State country.

- After racking up 1,289 receiving yards in 2007, Edwards slumped to 1,289 yards in 2008.

- Edwards habitually dropped passes while the ‘08 season was going south.

- One of the drops was on a beauty of a bomb that might have sunk Baltimore last Nov. 2, leaving the Browns with a 4-4 record. Instead, Edwards dropped the ball, the Browns fell to 3-5, and Anderson was benched in favor of Brady Quinn.

- In his first 2009 start, Anderson’s first chance for a first down was an Edwards drop. It’s an open question whether Anderson consciously avoided Edwards after that, not wanting to put his career in Edwards’ hands again. Anderson threw to rookie Mohamed Massaquoi 13 times.

On the other hand, there is some evidence Edwards is plugged into the team. On Friday, he sat in the middle of the locker room playing cards with teammates Joshua Cribbs, Corey Williams and Rex Hadnot.

Mangini says he frequently has butted heads with players at first, only to forge strong bonds. He said he regularly trades text messages with Laveranues Coles, who was one of his wideouts with the Jets.

Long before 2:30 a.m., Edwards was in an on-field fight during the game. Edwards contended he was sticking up for teammate Jerome Harrison because of a cheap shot at the end of the play.

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar didn’t buy it.

“That’s the type of discipline from him that’s really disappointing,” Kosar said Monday on WKNR. “If you’re frustrated because you’re not catching the ball ... and maybe thinking about that streak of catching balls, or Massaaquoi having a bigger game ...

“I don’t know what was going through his head. But that’s just not acceptable.”

The game and its aftermath turned into an unsavory sandwich for Edwards.

In the fourth quarter, Edwards went after 320-pound Bengals defensive tackle Pat Sims.

When the game ended in a 23-20 overtime loss, Edwards didn’t have a single catch for the first time in his 62-game Browns career.

According to the police report, with details added by James, Edwards punctuated an argument by socking a 130-pound man.

The story may take a while to play out, but the guess is it’s lights out for Edwards in Cleveland.

The Repository