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Updated: May 19th, 2011 5:41pm
If Vikings don't pay up, Ray Edwards 'definitely focusing on boxing'

If Vikings don't pay up, Ray Edwards 'definitely focusing on boxing'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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If the Minnesota Vikings try to hold onto Ray Edwards with a restricted tender, Friday night could be the start of a new career.

At least, that's what the defensive end-turned-heavyweight continued to say on the eve of his professional boxing debut against former kickboxer T.J. Gibson on Friday at Grand Casino Hinckley.

"It all depends on what route is taking place," Edwards told 1500 ESPN Twin Cities in an interview scheduled to air at 1:35 p.m. Friday on the "Reusse & Mackey" show.

"I've openly said I won't play for the Vikings, because of the simple fact of my backup is getting paid 70 more percent than I am -- there's no way I can do that to myself. I'd rather do what I love doing. I love doing football as well. But if there's nobody that's going to trade for me, I will be definitely focusing on boxing."

Edwards, 26, has known for some time the money likely would take him elsewhere. But the NFL's uncertain labor situation has his eligibility for free agency in doubt, as a five-year veteran who could be restricted for a second straight offseason if the league ends up playing under 2010 rules.

The Vikings' first-round tender offer ($2.836 million) arrived a day before the team agreed to a three-year, $14.1 million contract with backup Brian Robison, and Edwards -- who sat out all offseason workouts last year before signing that first-round tender -- vowed he wouldn't cave in again.

"I was happy for (Robison)," Edwards told 1500 ESPN. "He's a definitely great guy. I love the guy off the field, love him on the field. Great teammate. I wished him all the best, because we both were up for contracts. So, I told him that more than likely they're going to keep you because of the numbers situation.

"They're paying Jared (Allen, who signed a six-year, $73.26 million contract in April 2008). You've got Kevin (Williams), who's almost due for a contract and he's been there forever and he's a six-time Pro Bowler, I believe. I don't know if they're going to try to keep Pat (Williams) or not. It's just a numbers game.

"In this business, and I understand that, sometimes there's an odd man out, and I believe that I was always that odd man out."

The only chance of a reunion with the Vikings, Edwards said, would be if he doesn't receive a better offer elsewhere. But free agency remains on hold and rules up in the air while the NFL lockout unfolds in the courts.

So, Edwards is moving forward in the ring, where he believes he can ascend "to the top" if he makes it his full-time job.

"How many people you know that play defensive end that got six percent body fat?" Edwards said. "I follow my nutrition very well, my training schedule is very rigorous and I go get it. That's just how I was raised. I never depended on nobody else. You just do it yourself."

He plans to fight at about 260 pounds -- down 10 pounds from his NFL playing weight -- and will tower over Gibson, who stands 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds. In the crowd are expected to be a number of current and former Vikings, including Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, E.J. Henderson, Eric Frampton, Husain Abdullah and Jayme Mitchell.

Edwards signed a two-bout contract that will pay him $5,000 plus 50% of the gate, and he already has at least one willing opponent for a future fight. Promoter Jared Shaw on Wednesday was quoted as saying he's extended an "open challenge" for Edwards to fight Internet street-fighting legend and former mixed-martial artist Kimbo Slice.

Told of the offer, Edwards called Slice "a great street fighter" but noted he didn't last long in the MMA world.

"I'm not afraid of nobody," Edwards said. "If the numbers are right ... we'll sit down with management and we could get it done."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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