Sack master Edwards weighs in

Posted Sep 21, 2009

Posted: 9:20 p.m.

Eddie Edwards knew the Bengals won Sunday, but he didn't know until his nephew called that Antwan Odom had tied his 28-year-old team record with five sacks.

"He heard it on ESPN and I was wondering, 'There hasn't been anybody there long enough to break it,' " said Edwards until he realized they were talking about the game record and not the career mark.

Because even though he retired 21 years ago, Edwards, their former left end, is still the Bengals sackmaster. He is the all-time leader with 87.5 and owner of three of the club's best seven sack seasons. At 55 and living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he is supervisor for a concrete company, he is still fiercely proud of the records.

Particularly the 87.5.

"I'm still working. Hard-nosed. Just like when I played," Edwards said Monday evening. "Tell him to stop at five. I get NFL Network so I want to make sure I see the game and see how he was doing it."

Edwards remembers his five-sacker "like it was yesterday." It was the last game of the 1980 season at Riverfront Stadium and the Bengals were going home and the Browns were going to the playoffs with Brian Sipe as their quarterback.

"To tell you the truth, I wanted to hurry up and play the game and get back to Florida; It was just too cold," said Edwards, who grew up in Fort Pierce, Fla., and went to the University of Miami. "Sipe ran around a lot like Fran Tarkenton and everything I did that day worked. I did swim moves where I'd head butt (the tackle) and go over the guy's shoulder or do a rip move and go underneath him. That day, everything our line coach (Dick Modzelewski) told me worked."

Those five sacks gave Edwards a career-high 12 for the season, a mark he broke in 1983 with 13. No Bengal has matched either season with current left end Robert Geathers coming the closest with 10.5 in 2006. Coy Bacon holds the club season record with 22 in 1976.

Now here comes Odom with an NFL-leading seven in the first two games and Edwards says he can relate to Odom's postgame comments that it all seemed like a dream it went so well. But the two sacks Edwards remembers the most were executed out of sheer reality.

They came the next year in November of the Bengals run to the Super Bowl under head coach Forrest Gregg. It was Nov. 15, 1981 against the Los Angeles Rams at Riverfront and the players had to be at the hotel the night before, so he set his alarm for 8:00 before he took a nap.

But it was set for 8 a.m., instead of 8 p.m. and after a host of teammates called his place and pounded on his door, he finally arrived about two hours late.

"Forrest was a big man and I knew he was going to be mad, so I figured I'd better have a good game," Edwards said. "He never said anything to me. Dick Modzelewski must have told him I made it. Then I went out and sacked Dan Pastorini and knocked him out of the game. That's a pretty good day. I figured they couldn’t get mad at me then."

If Odom thinks he's a speed rusher at 280 pounds, how about Edwards? He figured the heaviest he played at was 235 pounds and if he had played in a 4-3 defense, "Who knows how many I would have had?" he said. "You get by the tackle in a 3-4, but then the guard is sitting waiting for you."

But here's another similarity with Odom before he put on 20 pounds last offseason to get to 280 pounds: Coaches were always telling Edwards to put on more weight, but while linemates such as Gary Burley were always battling their weight for the weigh-ins, Edwards could always still have a big breakfast and then put some weights in his shorts as he got on the scale so the coaches wouldn’t get all over him.

Edwards has two children still in high school, a boy and a girl, and his son Eddie is a tall, rangy ninth-grader that shows signs of being a pretty good receiver. His dad goes to all his games and throws the ball with him and he's hoping he'll go to the University of Miami, where the Bengals took Eddie with the third pick in the 1977 draft.

He stayed until Super Bowl XXIII, that last game in Miami when he was no longer starting and says he begged head coach Sam Wyche to dress him out in front of family and friends because he had a pretty good idea this was it. After 12 seasons and 87.5 sacks, it was and Wyche dressed him and got him some snaps, one of six who played for the Bengals in both Super Bowls.

"You know when you're near the end and you're probably not coming back," he said. "Not many guys played with the same team for 12 years and I'm proud I got to play in two Super Bowls. A lot of guys never played in any."

Edwards still follows the Bengals. His boss is from Wisconsin and is a big Packers fan, so he's waiting to do some jawing. He says it's OK if Odom gets 14 sacks, but he'd like to always keep the career record. That may not be a problem. The top five are either retired or with another team. The closest to him is 21 sacks away and linebacker Reggie Williams has been retired a year less than his old teammate.

"I'd like to get back to Cincinnati this season and see some friends I still have there," he said. "A brand new stadium. Riverfront is gone. I'd probably get lost."

He just has to look in the record book.




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