The Vikings’ recent progress in cleaning up their public image now has taken two hits in less than a week.
Defensive coordinator George Edwards was arrested May 21 in Chanhassen on suspicion of drunken driving, the Star Tribune confirmed Tuesday. The 49-year-old assistant coach is the second team member in six days to have a DWI arrest come to light.
Edwards was charged with three misdemeanors, including fourth-degree DWI, after registering a blood-alcohol level over the 0.08 legal limit. As part of a plea deal, Edwards pleaded guilty Aug. 30 to misdemeanor careless driving and was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $1,000. This summer, Edwards attended a court-ordered chemical dependency class and a panel with victims through Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
In a statement, the Vikings said Edwards was “significantly disciplined” by the team after immediately notifying them of his May arrest.
“George has fulfilled both his legal obligations as well as the additional team-imposed discipline,” the Vikings’ statement read.
Edwards will not be disciplined by the NFL, spokesperson Brian McCarthy said Tuesday, adding “the team made us aware of the incident and the discipline it imposed as a result.”
Last week, practice squad guard Isame Faciane became the first known Vikings player to be arrested since Dec. 2014. The Vikings released Faciane on Tuesday, six days after he was charged on suspicion of drunken driving in St. Louis Park. Head coach Mike Zimmer called Faciane’s arrest “stupid” on Monday.
“It’s disappointing and that’s one of the things that I’m trying to get rid of around here,” Zimmer said of Faciane. “Making sure that our fans are being represented in the right way.”
Later Tuesday, news of Edwards arrest was first reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Zimmer and other team leaders were not made available for comment after the Edwards reports.
The Vikings led the NFL with 18 reported player arrests from 2010 to 2015, according to a USA Today database tracking such incidents. In the 2½ years since hiring Zimmer, known Vikings arrests have declined, as they have around the NFL. Before the Edwards and Faciane arrests, the last known Vikings run-in with the law came when cornerback Jabari Price was arrested Dec. 29, 2014, and charged with suspicion of drunken driving. Price was ultimately suspended for two games by the NFL and remains on the team.
Team-issued punishments have differed by case, and a team spokesperson declined to elaborate on Edwards’ discipline.
Edwards has been an NFL assistant coach for six teams since 1998, joining the Vikings staff with Zimmer in 2014. Edwards attended Duke University, where he earned All-ACC honorable mention at linebacker in 1989, and now helps oversee the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
His boss is one of the league’s best defensive minds — and not one to display patience for incidents like the ones involving Faciane and Edwards.
“I’ve tried to change the culture on that when I came in here,” Zimmer said recently. “People make mistakes, but they know they’re going to have to deal with me.”