Kellen Winslow Jr., Braylon Edwards hope to make great music together for Jets
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CORTLAND, N.Y. - Kellen Winslow Jr. always has had an ear for music.
As a young boy, he'd play the role of disc jockey at home, selecting songs on the stereo while his mother entertained party guests. He took saxophone lessons and learned how to play the piano -- a skill that later would come in handy during the courtship of his future wife.
"Since I met him, he's always loved music. He used to play the piano for me on the phone," Janelle Winslow, his wife of seven years, said in an email to Newsday. The pair started dating around the age of 13 or 14.
Music has always been Winslow's outlet. And as he got older -- and the stress of NFL injuries began to take its toll -- the tight end turned to techno, house and trance to escape.
Nine years later, the Jets tight end's passion for electronic dance music has become more than just a hobby. It's blossomed into a side gig and perhaps an eventual second career for Winslow, who was a guest DJ on "Good Morning America" in January.
But "DJK2" -- Winslow's alter ego -- equivalent to Beyonce's "Sasha Fierce'' -- is everything he is not: loud, fiery and sometimes even a little mean.
Pulsating basslines and smashing helmets are the soundtrack to K2's soul -- the excitable personality of an NFL player and disc jockey rolled into one 6-4, 240-pound frame.
"When he's in that mode, he's a different guy," wrote his wife, who is due to give birth to the couple's second child, a daughter, any day now.
Known as a homebody to those in his inner circle, the reserved Winslow is a doting dad to the couple's young son, Jalen, and their Yorkies, Buddy and Precious. But a fire ignites deep within whenever he steps on the football field or behind a turntable.
And interestingly enough, serving as a DJ helped bring him and Braylon Edwards closer together.
Their NFL careers converged in Cleveland almost a decade ago, and even as their paths diverged, they made sure to keep in touch. Sometimes it was by phone, but most often through text.
A simple "I miss you, man'' sufficed.
And now, after countless setbacks, their circuitous journeys have brought them to Jets training camp. And the pair, born five months apart in 1983, are eager to prove 30 is the new 20.
"That's my brother from another mother. Love that guy," said Winslow, who also played for Tampa Bay and New England and briefly spent time with Edwards in Seattle.
The Jets signed Winslow after his three-day minicamp tryout in June. Edwards had to wait a little longer, signing his Jets contract just before the team boarded a bus bound for SUNY Cortland.
"It's full circle now," Winslow said. "And we're back."
Both players say their bond was slow to develop. Winslow smirked as he admitted the surprising truth. "We didn't like each other at first," he said.
He had been the heralded Miami Hurricane, taken sixth overall in the 2004 NFL draft. But a broken fibula in his rookie season sidelined him after only two games and five catches for 50 yards. Then the Browns made Edwards, the former Michigan star with big-play ability, the third overall pick in the 2005 draft -- just a month before Winslow tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a highly publicized motorcycle accident.
"I got hurt and he came in, getting all this attention," Winslow said, frowning. "The world hated me."
Said Edwards: "We kind of had a silent, unannounced grudge that first year."
But when the wide receiver suffered his own season-ending knee injury as a rookie, it opened the door for the two to get to know one another in the training room.
It took a while for egos to fall by the wayside. But eventually, the former first-round picks realized they had much more in common than they ever could have imagined -- including former NFL fathers, Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow and former running back Stan Edwards.
The pair playfully competed in everything, from the pace of their rehab to ping- pong to who arrived at the facility first in the morning. DJ'ing soon was added to their list of collective hobbies, along with playing video games and cracking jokes on one another.
"Kellen said, 'Hey, you should try this,' and I loved it," Edwards said of mixing music. "He's a little more advanced than I am, but we do it. It's fun. It's all about house, EDM -- it's the best stuff to DJ. Great music. So I'm excited."
Now their friendly competition will continue on the football field here in Cortland.
Edwards and Winslow each has his own personal benchmark -- for Winslow, it's 100 catches this season, he said -- and together they'll try to help each other reach those goals.
"I think it's good for this team," Edwards said of being reunited with Winslow. "Bringing our experience and what we've shared and what we've done -- success, failures. As well as being able to motivate and push each other.
"Having somebody that knows what you're capable of . . . So I think it's going to be a great situation for us both. Barring injury, I see a great season for both of us and I see a great opportunity to help this team and thrive together."
Jets fans have seen what Edwards can do. He helped the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and '10 and played in three games at the tail end of 2012 (catching 10 passes for 125 yards) after being claimed off waivers from Seattle.
Winslow -- who did not play in Saturday's Green and White scrimmage -- remains on a pitch count, but he insists his surgically repaired right knee isn't an issue.
The tight end -- who recently voiced frustrations over his abrupt release from the Seahawks last year -- is anxious to write a new chapter to his NFL career with his buddy by his side.
During his four-month stay in Seattle, Winslow pushed for the Seahawks to sign Edwards. And when they became Jets, "it's like they never missed a beat," Janelle said.
Over the years, personal and professional setbacks have forced both to re-evaluate their lives and careers. But one thing that always has been certain is their bond.
"It's fun to have K2 back," Edwards said. " . . . We have great chemistry -- just in life."
Asked about Edwards, Winslow replied: "That's my brother, man."