Friday, February 08, 2008

The time that Clyde Edwards played his last game

Edwards ends GSU career on bittersweet note
December 16, 2007

By Nick Deriso
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It wasn't supposed to end like this for Clyde Edwards.

With his lowest output over four stirring seasons at Grambling State.

With his team down 28-12 at the half, then finally falling 42-31, and with no touchdown receptions.

With some thinking his coach would be gone to Florida A&M in the morning.
Without a second title to put the finishing touches on a career like no other receiver in the remarkable history of this passing offense.

"I'm caught up in the moment," Edwards said, still in his pads. Still taking it all in.

"That hurt," he said, slowly, finally, definitively.

Edwards will perhaps be remembered as much for a school-record 37 career receiving touchdowns as for carrying a 3.9 grade-point average through graduation at Grambling on Friday.

He raced over here to Birmingham later that day to participate in what once looked like a coronation.

Grambling had won seven straight games by the first Saturday in November.

And Edwards was one his way to claiming a spot among the program's very best — a list that includes Louisiana Sports Hall of Famers Charlie Joiner and Frank Lewis, as well as more recent standouts like Scotty Anderson, Tramon Douglas and Henry Tolbert.

Something happened on the way to the crowning ceremony.

Grambling lost two straight going into Saturday, even as its coach began an extended flirtation with at least two other programs.

Then it lost one more, the first time Grambling had ever fallen in a SWAC Championship Game.

With Clyde Edwards somehow at the center of everything, but outside the circle of light.

His initial pair of catches were for first downs, one for 15 yards and another for 13 — getting Grambling to the JSU 11 within the game's first two minutes.

Even when things were supposed to be right, they somehow came out wrong.

Edwards moved into history, passing Douglas in the Grambling record book for career receptions, on an early-second quarter pitchout — but ran into team mate Nick Lewis. No gain.

He'd already broken the GSU record for career touchdowns, and was closing in on Anderson's mark for career yards.

But he was losing. Again.

"We gave everything we had," Edwards said. "They were just playing a little better."

Honored at midfield before the game with the U.S. Army Strong Leadership Award, Edwards actually earned it later.

He entered the locker room at the half down 16 points to Jackson State. But not down.

Edwards never quit, even while the same couldn't be said for fans that should have been supporting him and his team mates in the final Football Championship Subdivision contest of the season.

An announced crowd of 43,236 — second highest ever for a SCG — saw Jackson fans outnumber their counterparts by a factor of what looked like 10-to-1. Grambling supporters stayed away in shocking droves.

No matter.

Edwards needed just 14 yards in the second half to overtake Anderson as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards. He got 47.

In fact, Edwards somehow finished with a game-high number of catches, and yards.

Yet scoreless during his final night inside a Grambling uniform.

Still, Edwards never got discouraged, never stopped playing. Never stopped bleeding black and gold.

He is, quite simply, the greatest player, the greatest man, of the modern Grambling era.

A pleasure to watch, and an even greater pleasure to know.

"Clyde is special, not only as a football player," said first-year GSU coach Rod Broadway. "Clyde is such a good, solid person. We would like to have an entire football team with the character of Clyde Edwards."

He has, since 2004, made memories that will last longer than wins on the field — longer than even his trio of staggering school records.

In this way, his tenure will never be over. We shouldn't think all that's left to celebrate is what Edwards did on the field.

He's always been much more than that.

"He's my brother, my right hand," said quarterback Brandon Landers, who has shared the field with Edwards through three years of starting at Grambling. "He's a man's man, a great American."

If you didn't see Edwards' last game, and there are a numbingly large number who didn't, you missed a final moment with a Grambling hero for the ages.

He didn't really have a great day.

He didn't really have a great season, not the season he should have had.

Not when Edwards had gone without a 100-yard night since facing Texas Southern back in October, when he exploded for three touchdowns. Edwards only other times to reach the century mark were against Prairie View and Jackson State, in the previous regular-season meeting.

A new run-first attack didn't always feature him.

Edwards took that in stride, too, as he had so many catches. He never spoke ill of the scheme, or the new staff. He never did anything that would draw attention to himself, or his own hopes.

"I set some goals before the year, but in this offense it doesn't always call for that," Edwards said. "I've had to make the best of my opportunities."

He only wanted to win a championship, he often said.

Even that dream failed Edwards this season, though he helped reverse a disastrous 3-8 record from his junior year.

There would be no trophy raising for him as a senior, making the lone championship of his sophomore year all the more bittersweet.

"I feel like you come out the same, giving the same effort each season — you give it your all," he said. "Life is funny like that. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't."

It wasn't supposed to end like this for Clyde Edwards.

NICK DERISO is assistant managing editor at The News-Star. Contact him at (318) 362-0234 or at

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