Vikings’ Edwards, a Siler City native, more deserving of national respect

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/10/20

For years now, I’ve felt a 0-to-100 rise in my temperature every time I watch a Minnesota Vikings game. Consistently the talking television media heads allude to head coach Mike Zimmer when …

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Vikings’ Edwards, a Siler City native, more deserving of national respect

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For years now, I’ve felt a 0-to-100 rise in my temperature every time I watch a Minnesota Vikings game. Consistently the talking television media heads allude to head coach Mike Zimmer when discussing the Vikings defense. Now I fully understand Zimmer is considered a defensive guru and has his hands on the Vikings defense. But come on, just one time, give George Edwards the credit and recognition that he deserves as Minnesota’s defensive coordinator.

Edwards and the Vikings finished 10-6 this season and stunned Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 26-20 in overtime Sunday afternoon in the NFC Wildcard game down in the Big Easy to advance to the second round. Currently the Vikings have the 5th-ranked defense in the entire National Football League, allowing just 17.8 points per game. Yet no mention of Edwards, only Zimmer, which makes me want to throw things through my TV.

Now I’m biased, 100 percent, I acknowledge that. George and I have been friends a long, long time — we played sports together growing up, went to school together, spent the night as kids, been to football camp together, partied together in high school and college. You name it, we’ve probably done it. But my admiration for George began a long time ago.

In fact, George made a lasting memory on me the first time I saw him. I was playing for the Blue team and he was on the Green team in T-Ball/Coach Pitch baseball at 5 years old over at Bray Park down on the little field behind left field of what seemed to be a monstrous softball field at the time. He was a stocky kid, played pitcher for the Green team, which was where the best athletes normally played because really the only chance you had for an out was the pitcher fielding the ball and running down the runner. Well, I saw him run down a few of our Blue team runners, and in my young mind, I already recognized I didn’t need to hit it anywhere near him if I wanted to reach first base safely, that this kid was good.

From then we played basketball together, for the Siler City Bulldogs in Pee Wee football, then Chatham Middle Basketball and Midget League Football. By then I knew he was a very good player in all sports and we were friends just like a lot of our classmates and teammates were. We all shared a genuine bond as classmates and teammates.

But with George, you could tell even at a young age that he had a drive to succeed, and that also meant in the classroom as well. One instance has always stood out to me, and that was the day that we were holding elections for Student Offices in each middle school grade. We were in the 6th grade at the time in the old Chatham Middle, and George asked me and a couple of others to come into the boys’ locker room at Earnest Ramsey Gymnasium. He opened his book bag, took out his speech written on a piece of notebook paper, and read it a few times. Of course we were very pleased and supportive because of our friendship — and we wanted a guy to become Class President. After all we were still in that not-sure-if-we-liked-girls stage.

George later proceeded up in front of the entire school packed into they gymnasium that day, killed the speech, and was our President from then on.

In high school he became a leader of our football team as well, set the example in the weight room, and continued to excel in the classroom, eventually drawing scholarship offers from Duke University and Army at West Point. That pretty much sums up his intelligence level by mentioning those two schools, and his dedication to the classroom.

Eventually Duke won out and he went to play for coach Steve Spurrier — yes, the Ole Ball Coach himself — and captained the 1989 Atlantic Coast Conference Blue Devils squad which earned a bid to the All-American Bowl versus Texas Tech down in Birmingham, Alabama.

Soon after his final game we meet up in town, and I asked him about trying for the NFL, and he said without any hesitation ‘No.’ He said his body was going to heal after a broke nose, a broken wrist and a knee injury in college, and he decided he was going to be able to walk when he was older. He then broke it to me that he was going to head down to Gainesville, Florida, as a Graduate Assistant coach, and that Coach Spurrier was taking the Florida Gators job.

A year later Edwards and the Florida Gators were in the Sugar Bowl playing Notre Dame. Having followed the Fighting Irish I certainly got in some jabs before the game when he called on the way through Siler City and we met up at Golden Corral. And Notre Dame won 39-28, which gave me a little more to rub in later.

But the rest is history, George went to Appalachian State for three years, to UGA and Duke for a year each, and then to the NFL where he broke through with a job with the Dallas Cowboys. Since that time he’s coached for the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Browns, currently the Minnesota Vikings, and twice with our childhood favorite, the Miami Dolphins.

And everywhere he’s been he has made an impact on the defense. The stats back it up, over 20 years worth. The Chicago Bears interviewed him for its Head Coaching vacancy at the time, two years ago, but still, he received little press. I know many fans around Siler City and Chatham County have expressed the same sentiment to me about the situation of late, which certainly makes me feel good after going a period of time thinking I’m just too biased and maybe looking at things from a skewed perspective.

Regardless, George — or Jorge as Ms. Palmer named him in Spanish Class — your fellow Jets and classmates, and a host of others in our area, recognize what you’ve accomplished and you are getting the credit you deserve from your hometown. You’ve been successful in every step of your football career as a player and a coach, and have become one of the top Defensive Coordinators at the highest level.

So good luck in the second round against San Francisco when the Minnesota Vikings take on the 49ers on Saturday afternoon at 4:35 p.m. Here’s hoping for an early present for your birthday on January 16 with a win! Get after them No. 68, GATA Jets forever brother!


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