By ERIKA HARDISON
Former NFL DE Ray Edwards came to AOL to talk about football, boxing and to clear up that whole 'bad apple' business that's been associated with his name. How did a starting player with 224 tackles and 33 sacks just disappear from the game of football?
Q: Approximately 1,500 days ago you sacked Cam Newton. How do you feel about people making a big deal of Cam Newton and Russell Wilson being 'successful black quarterbacks'?
A: I don't look at them as black quarterbacks, I look at them as quarterbacks. We all are so quick to label quarterbacks. They are two great quarterbacks. I'm a fan of everyone I played against. I'm a fan of Cam Newton. I like the way he's grown to be a leader and the guy that everyone looks up to on his team. Russell Wilson is on a great team, a guy I played against as well. He shows stuff on and off the field that shows us why he's as good as he is.
Q: The last time the NFL mentioned you it was 2013, during the lockout and the consensus was that you pretty much took your payout and just left the league.
A: I took my payout and bounced? Not so much that, I didn't get any offers that I felt I was deserving of.
Q: Have you spoken to your former coach to determine what the actual issue was?
A: I came in and proved myself to myself, credibility and what I was worth. They (the coaches) go off each other' words and it's more of a brotherhood and it's corporate and we are the employees. But no, I haven't talked to him. I'm not a bad apple and people that know me know how I am and how I operate.
Q: So what do you have to do to get on a coach's bad side? How do you get labeled a bad apple? Give me an example.
A: Stand up for yourself. For example, we went into a meeting and he told me somebody was better than me. Which I know probably to this day still hasn't happened. I haven't checked the stats but he probably still doesn't have more sacks than me since I've been gone out the league. He wasn't better than me that season.
A: Kroy Biermann. He said he was better than me and he produces more than me. He wasn't better than me that season, but he was giving more opportunities because he was more of a 'yes' man. Like I said, I grew up old school from my grandparents and respect is earned, not given.
Q: What was your experience coming out of a Big 10 school?
A: The experience is great. The Big 10 gets you ready for whatever that's going to come your way. ... You get to see all types of different aspects of football.
Q: Do you feel like you got out the NFL at a good time? Do you have any regrets?
A: I have no regrets. The game has changed a lot and you can barely play defensive end anymore to me. I think I got out at the right time because the way I play the game, I didn't play as in-line with everyone should play (now).
Q: I was watching some of your boxing video. Do you think you will stick to traditional boxing or will you venture into MMA?
A: I'm going to stick to traditional boxing. That is what the greats I study did -- Mohammed Ali, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson. Those are people I want to exceed. I'm looking to get a fight in February, but I don't have an opponent just yet. I had the opportunity to work with Deontay Wilder a couple months ago. It was a great experience.
Q: How would you advise athletes and aspiring athletes to avoid situations like the incident you had with steroids?
A: Make sure you read everything you take. Some things say "all natural" but it was not. I thought it was natural and it was a testosterone booster in there. But if you look at my stats, I got better after (without using it at all). I don't think steroids enhance anything because some guys that take it still can't play worth a nickel.
Q: Who do you want to fight right now? Who do you think you can beat if you were in a match?
A: I can fight anyone. I had a guy that gave Tyson some trouble so I think I could beat him (in his prime). Kimbo Slice? Easy work. Mayweather is 147 pounds – he has to go, that is easy work. Ali in his prime? I plead the fifth. He's one of my heroes.