Ray Edwards the boxer is moving on while the NFL stands still.
The Vikings defensive end signed a contract on Tuesday for two professional fights. His ring debut at any level will be a four-round main event against a yet-to-be-determined opponent on May 20 at Grand Casino Hinckley.
"It's something I've always wanted to do in my life," Edwards said during a break in his training at Higher Power Training in Eden Prairie. "I can't put my eggs all in one basket, waiting for the NFL to settle the lockout. You never know when this lockout is going to end."
Edwards, 26, began incorporating boxing into his football training routine four years ago. He became more serious about boxing when the lockout became a probability about two years ago.
The 6-5 Edwards looks to be in prime fighting shape. He has just 8 percent body fat and weighs 255 pounds, which is about 13 pounds below his playing weight. His boxing trainer is Jeff Warner, a former professional heavyweight boxer and a pastor at the Rock Church Center in Burnsville.
Edwards signed for a guaranteed $5,000 plus 50 percent of the May 20 gate proceeds. If the lockout continues into June, he'll fight again under the same terms that month at Grand Casino Hinckley.
Edwards' future with the Vikings is in doubt. He is unsigned heading into his sixth season and could be an unrestricted free agent, depending on the terms that will govern the new labor agreement.
Edwards isn't expecting to re-sign with the Vikings, but he hasn't ruled it out. He said right now he's more focused on his boxing career than his football future or news about the lockout. With his size, strength, speed and quickness, Edwards has high expectations for his boxing career and believes he will surprise people who underestimate him because of his inexperience.
"There's always going to be people tell you that you can't do something," Edwards said. "It's up to you to make sure you prove them wrong by going out there and believing in yourself. I'm not trying to go out there just to say I tried it. I'm going out there trying to be the best."Preseason games set
The Vikings don't know if they will even play preseason games because of the ongoing NFL lockout, but they know their opponents.
The NFL released its preseason schedule on Tuesday uncertainty surrounding the labor situation. Here is the Vikings' schedule: Week 1 at Tennessee (Aug. 12 or 13); Week 2 at Seattle (Aug. 19 or 20); Week 3 vs. Dallas at Mall of America Field at Metrodome (Aug. 26 or 27); Week 4 vs. Houston at the Metrodome (Aug. 31 or Sept. 1).
Exact dates and times were not released.
The Vikings were assured of playing their first two games on the road while the Metrodome roof is being repaired. The project is expected to be completed by Aug. 1.
The schedule comes with an asterisk, however, because there's no guarantee the work stoppage will be over by then.