by Charles Jay
What’s the worst that could possibly happen when an NFL player gets involved with pro boxing?
No, not a concussion that is more severe than could be incurred on the field.
Promoters are much too “careful” for that.
Ray Edwards, who played defensive end in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons, started tinkering around with boxing during the lockout before the 2011 season. His pro debut was in May of that year against someone named T.J. Gibson, who actually forced him to go the distance.
Edwards had signed a two-fight contract with Grand Casino Hinckley in Minnesota, but he put boxing on the shelf after signing a five-year $30 million contract with the Falcons. Expected to provide a great pass rushing component to John Abraham, Edwards was a disappointment, and considered by some to be lackadaisical and uninvolved, before being given his release last November. His wasn’t completely a tragic story; as part of his free-agent contract, he received $11 million guaranteed, which means he won’t be headed to the bread lines anytime soon.
It also means that he has enough money to spread around when it comes to padding his record. Surely there should be enough to buy better actors than his third (and most recent) opponent.
Nick Capes, who came in on short notice to fight Edwards on Saturday night in West Fargo, North Dakota, did not play the role of the loser too well. In fact, thirteen seconds into the first round, he reacted to an uppercut from Edwards that was at least a foot short, jumped back and flopped to the canvas, staying there for the ten count.
As far as appearances were concerned, it just didn’t look too good. Edwards may not be a polished boxer, but he certainly is an athlete. At 6’5″ and 258 pounds (his listed weight for the fight), he posted high marks at the NFL Combine when he came out of Purdue. At that time he was fifteen pounds heavier and ran a 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds, registered a vertical jump of 39 inches, and bench-pressed 220 pounds a total of 30 times.
By contrast, Capes was 206 pounds, looked at least eight inches shorter, and was bald and rather roly-poly. The visual seemed to be appropriate for the incident.
A lot of people on YouTube have already gotten a big laugh out of the video. But one of the people who wasn’t laughing was Al Jaeger, who is the secretary of state for North Dakota, and by virtue of that, the head of the Commission of Combative Sports. The fight drew complaints, to say the least, and got the local and regional media very “interested” after the fact. As a result, it becomes a political black eye, as well as a horrific representation of the sport. Jaeger has issued an indefinite suspension to Capes for his effort, or lack of same.
“We’ll take appropriate action as the investigation review unfolds,” he said.
Jaeger recognizes that Capes, who is 31 years old, was substituting for Mike Smith, whose only pro fight was a one-round knockout loss to veteran MMA competitor Travis Fulton, and did not arrive in West Fargo until midnight Friday. The matchmaker for the show, Cory Rapacz, reached out for Capes because he did not want to pull Edwards, one of the show’s main attractions (along with former North Dakota State basketball player Aaron Green) off the card. He said he thought Capes became scared at the sight of Edwards.
The flop was Capes’ fourth loss in as many documented fights, and they have all come by first-round knockout. He has also previously lost to Fulton.