We are always careful when reporting on rumors, since in the Internet era it's very easy to start one based on no evidence. But the most-read article today on the highly trafficked sports website Deadspin had a headline that buried the lead: The headline said, "The War On Braylon Edwards' Manhood," but the thrust was the piece was more direct: Is Edwards, the Cleveland Browns receiver, gay? Bottom line: We don't know.
This is not a new rumor, but the latest "evidence" was this post Monday on a Browns message board affiliated with Fox Sports. Edwards had been the subject of trade talks with the New York Giants that never went anywhere:
First of all, let me start out with the fact that I think this is ridiculous. I have a friend who is inside the NY Giants and this morning I talked to him about the draft and the subject of Edwards came up.
No lie, he said that there was a big concern how he would fit in the locker room because a lot of people thought he was gay. He said that for some reason a good deal of the players believe that Braylon is gay and that is why he wants to go to New York (because it is a better atmosphere for homosexuals) and this has actually come up as a concern within the Giants in trading for him.
First of all, I think it is completely stupid. Whether he is gay or not, it shouldn't matter. I don't believe he is gay, but hell if I know. But obviously the NFL is filled with meatheads how aren't particularly tolerant and apparently there is a potentially big locker room issue.
I was blown away that this was actually a legitimate factor as to why the Giants didn't pull the trigger, and I was assured that this was not only a factor, but a BIG factor.
Again, I know this is ridicuolous [sic] and my goal isn't to slander Braylon Edwards or anything, but I found it absolutely absurd that this was a factor in the Giants hesitation.
I love Braylon and am thrilled that he is staying and hope he returns to his '07 form, so don't take this as any attempt to slander him. Also, I could give a crap if he is and I think it is a shame that he would be shunned because of his orientation.
I know I will get flamed for this, but I was floored when I heard that this was a reason for backing away from Edwards.
The responses mostly pooh-pooh the report, as a "friend inside the Giants" could mean the janitor. And it does seem at odds with the gay-friendly vibe we've gotten from the Giants organization, though the dynamics in a locker room can be different.
Other evidence? Deadspin linked to this comment from Houston Texans safety Will Demps, who has done modeling:
"Last year I was with the Texans, and when we played the Browns, Braylon Edwards asked me between plays if we could talk after the game about modeling and acting."
If being a budding actor-model meant one was gay, then 75% of Los Angeles males under 35 would fit that category. Juicier, tough, was the dredging up of a story from last year on the black-oriented website Mediatakeout that showed what it called "suspicious pics" of Edwards and "his close male companion." After reading the spirited comments I can conclude that Edwards is 100% straight ... or 100% gay, depending on who's doing the commenting.
Outsports has also heard rumors, with Cyd reporting this:
A friend of mine SWEARS he spent an evening at Jay-Z's club in Manhattan hanging out with the boyfriends of Michael Phelps and Braylon Edwards. It was a Monday night that the Browns were playing a game, so it seemed odd that Edwards' bf would be in a club (albeit a sports-focused club) a thousand miles away and not at the game. I'm pretty sure it was the Giants-Cleveland game this past season.
Cyd laughed when he heard this, mostly since Phelps seemed to be wishful thinking. There are also no I.D. cards that Braylon Edwards' partner would carry around identifying himself as such, so it's impossible to know if someone at the club saying that was telling the truth. And besides that, why would Edwards' and Phelps' real boyfriends be in a New York club telling people about their famous boyfriends?
So there you have it -- Braylon Edward is gay. Unless he isn't.
Podcast: We talk about the rumor in our latest podcast, also available on iTunes.
Related: From our archives --Why do we speculate on an athlete's sexuality?