NC Times:Despite Pro Bowl snubs, Chargers linebacker deliver

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
By: JAY PARIS - Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO ---- Donnie Edwards is headed for the City of Brotherly Love, and he's looking for some love himself.

"I'm just not a big attention-getter,'' the Chargers' veteran linebacker said.

A peek at the Chargers' statistics reveals a common thread: Once again, Edwards' name is atop the tackles list.

"Maybe when I get older, they might say I'm a good linebacker,'' said Edwards, who leads the team with 66 tackles, nearly 30 more than runner-up Terrence Kiel.

There's no doubt as far as Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer is concerned.

"Donnie Edwards makes plays,'' Schottenheimer said matter-of-factly.

Edwards just doesn't get much play in the national media. When the top linebackers are routinely mentioned, Edwards' name is seldom heard.

"I would put him right up there with (Baltimore's) Ray Lewis and (Miami's) Zach Thomas,'' said Edwards' teammate, veteran linebacker Randall Godfrey. "He is a playmaker and he changes games. He can carry a team.''

It's hard for Edwards, a Pro Bowler in 2002, not to carry a chip on his shoulder as well.

In 2004, Edwards was second in the NFL in total tackles (152) and solo tackles (105) and tied for the league lead among linebackers with five interceptions. His 14 passes defensed paced the Chargers.

But when Pro Bowl tickets were punched for Hawaii, Edwards was left on the runway.

"I've learned to deal with it,'' Edwards said. "I've been playing for 10 years and they still say I'm the most underrated linebacker in the league."

Edwards' peace of mind comes from some advice offered several years ago by an old Kansas City Chiefs teammate, Marvcus Patton.

It was soon after the Chiefs' 1999 season, in which Edwards led Kansas City with 143 tackles and added five interceptions, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He scored touchdowns on an interception and a fumble recovery.

But Edwards was devastated when he was passed over for the trip to the Pro Bowl.

"I wasn't even an alternate, and I was really upset,'' Edwards said. "But Marvcus said, 'Don't worry about things you can't control.' I went home and I thought about it and it's really true. If it happens, it happens. All I can do is give forth my best effort, like I have my own career.''

The Eagles have noticed. Both quarterback Donovan McNabb and coach Andy Reid delivered praise in Edwards' direction.

"I see a guy out there flying around like he's 24 or 25 years old,'' McNabb said. "He's a guy with fresh legs who is a big-time leader. He gets the guys in the right position. It seems like wherever the ball is, he's there.''

Added Reid: "I see a guy who has been very productive and has been a very good player for a number of years. He's a heck of a defender and I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very good football player.''

Then why is Edwards such a secret?

"I'm not an in-your-face type of guy,'' said Edwards, the Chargers' top tackler for three straight years. "I don't (stand) over people or am I doing dances and jumping around. And when I get in the end zone I act like I've been there a few times. I try to handle myself with class on and of the field.''

No argument there. Edwards, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, is among the team's more active players in the community. His Donnie Edwards Best Defense Foundation lends a hand to the Boy Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs, San Diego's Sharp Hospital, Read Across America and others.

Good guy, that Edwards. Good player, too.

"First and foremost, he is a playmaker,'' Schottenheimer said.

And he shines when needed most.

"He carried us down the stretch last year,'' said Godfrey.

Last December, Edwards had 58 tackles and four interceptions, one of them a game-winner. He capped the season with a game-high 15 tackles in a playoff loss to the Jets.

"I'm just consistent and do my thing ---- just out there making plays,'' Edwards said. "And I expect to make plays.''

Expect him to be overlooked again when the Pro Bowl ballots are counted.

"All I can do is keep on pushing and trying to do my best,'' Edwards said. "Maybe I'll get 300 tackles this year and 12 picks. Then at least I might become a Pro Bowl alternate.''