DETROIT (AP) - San Francisco 49ers receiver Braylon Edwards has filed a $14 million slander lawsuit, claiming allegations that he was directly involved in a fight at a suburban Detroit restaurant cost him a big guaranteed contract from another NFL team.
Edwards, a former standout at Michigan, makes the claims in a civil suit filed in Oakland County Circuit Court. It accuses the South restaurant and bar in Birmingham and three of its employees of slander, extortion and malicious prosecution.
“Mr. Edwards‘ offer was rescinded before it could be accepted because of the false, misleading, and/or negligent statements” that came out after his name was linked to the Aug. 1 fight at the restaurant.
“The events of that evening in question, including the false and malicious allegations directed toward Braylon, have damaged his reputation and earnings potential,” Edwards‘ agent, David Russell, said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Kelly Allen, an attorney for the restaurant, expressed confidence that the the claims will not prevail in court.
“We don’t know anything about Mr. Edwards‘ contract negotiations,” Allen said. “I trust the courts will do the right thing.”
According to the suit, Edwards was attending a class reunion at the restaurant, was seated in the VIP section and “paid a South employee consideration for increased security and privacy.”
Patrons at a nearby table began harassing Edwards and his group, and that restaurant employees “swarmed the area” and confronted men at his table, according to the lawsuit.
The next day, he received text messages indicating that unless he paid that employee and two other South workers “they would go to the press and file a complaint with police,” the suit says.
“Braylon is not going to stand idly by while those responsible for the incident attempt to take advantage of his success and celebrity,” Russell said.
Edwards won the Biletnikoff Award at Michigan as the top receiver in the nation before he was drafted third overall in 2005 by the Cleveland Browns.