FLORHAM PARK, N.J.
A day after Santonio Holmes talked almost wistfully about returning to face his old Steelers team, even confiding that he keeps in touch with many of his former teammates, another Jets receiver offered a decidedly less flattering view of playing in the Steel City.
"I hate Pittsburgh," Braylon Edwards told Newsday in the Jets' locker room Thursday. "It's cold. Terrible field. It's not fun in any regard. There's nothing about Pittsburgh that I like."
Sure, Holmes is anxious to show the Steelers they made a mistake in trading him to the Jets - "It's definitely time to show these guys, 'Why let me go?' '' he said, predicting a punt-return touchdown if given the opportunity - but Edwards has nothing but contempt for the place that produced so many bad memories from his days with the Browns.
Barely a month after excoriating the city of Cleveland before the Jets faced the Browns, Edwards offered a similar assessment of Holmes' old team. No love lost here, folks. And no wins, either; Edwards' Browns teams were a combined 0-8 against the Steelers, and in the seven games he played, he had only 21 catches for 389 yards and two touchdowns.
When I asked about any particular memories Edwards had of Pittsburgh, he cut right to the chase: "Losses. Just losses."
And, of course, the song.
"Don't let 'em play the damn Styx song, 'Renegade,' '' Edwards said.
Since 2001, "Renegade" has become the team's unofficial theme song at home games. While the song blares throughout the stadium, a video montage of defensive plays is shown to the delight of the sellout crowds. The song is played after a Steelers touchdown as a way to pump up the defense and the fans.
"That's a problem," Edwards said. "That's a big problem, every time. That I do remember."
Edwards will carry plenty of bitter memories of his losses to the Steelers, although the buildup won't be quite like the days leading up to the Jets' 26-20 overtime win over the Browns on Nov. 14. Edwards was enraged about his experience with the Browns, which lasted from 2005 until his trade to the Jets in October 2009.
"For the people that don't like me, I share the same feeling. I don't like them as well," Edwards said then when discussing the people of Cleveland.
Edwards certainly heard his share of boos from Steelers fans, but he paid them a compliment Thursday and showed his respect for the team.
"The fans are great, which makes it hard for the offense," he said. "I don't know what it's like playing against them on a good team, but the defenders, they're the real deal. On offense, they make plays.''
Edwards compared playing in Pittsburgh to facing the Patriots on the road - not a good sign, because the Jets have been blown out twice in New England during Edwards' tenure.
"It's like Foxborough," he said, referring to the Patriots' stadium location. "You can't get behind. You get behind, you start to panic, you start to press and it's too late.''
Edwards isn't the only Jets receiver to experience the heartache of losing to the Steelers. Jerricho Cotchery was a rookie when the Jets were beaten, 17-6, in Pittsburgh late in the 2004 regular season. The Jets made it back to Pittsburgh for a rematch in the playoffs but were beaten in overtime, 20-17, as Jets kicker Doug Brien missed two potential game-winning field-goal attempts in the final 2:02 of regulation.
"I'm still haunted by that game," said Cotchery, one of only three current Jets who played in that game. "We had opportunities to win it, but it didn't happen. I remember that loss to this day."
Edwards and Cotchery can only hope there aren't more bad memories Sunday.