Herman Edwards' mother saw this side of him many times. Now the entire country has seen it, too.
The Jets coach finally let his emotions get the best of him during the wild-card game against the Chargers on Saturday night, getting into a fight with assistant coach Bishop Harris on the sideline. Edwards knew he was wrong the second he let the words come out of his mouth, so he stepped in front of his team Tuesday and said he was sorry for losing his cool.
He apologized to his mother days ago, after she saw the confrontation from the stands. When he saw her afterward, she said, "They saw the other side, didn't they?"
"It wasn't right," Edwards said as the Jets prepared to play Pittsburgh on Saturday. "The head coach is supposed to keep his composure. That's the one thing I preach to our football team all the time. I have high expectations on myself and I let my guard down and I shouldn't have fallen into the trap.
"I won't embarrass the league by showing me on the TV set instead of showing our team."
Edwards, the former Bucs assistant who usually exudes California cool, had never lost his temper as a player or a coach. But his players know Edwards is plenty emotional. Veteran receiver Wayne Chrebet said he does not understand how Edwards keeps everything bottled up.
"I liked it," Chrebet said. "I know he's got it in him. We need that, to follow his lead. I know what he was like when he played. I know he still has it in him. You just know. You can tell by talking to him. He's got that fire in his belly."
Edwards will never be confused with Buddy Ryan, who slugged fellow assistant Kevin Gilbride while they were on the sideline with Houston in a game, coincidentally against the Jets, on Jan. 2, 1994.
But Edwards' inner fire serves his team well.
"I don't usually get mad, but there's times on the field where I'm a second away from the same type of thing," Curtis Martin said. "That's just emotion; that's football. Just playing out there in that game especially. I didn't really think of it as anything. That shows the fire. You can't avoid those things sometimes."
Edwards started screaming at Harris late in the third quarter but has declined to say why. It is known that Edwards wanted to get backup LaMont Jordan more involved in the game. Around the time of the argument, Martin had just caught a 23-yard pass.
Harris makes the personnel calls after getting the plays from offensive coordinator Paul Hackett over the headset. So the altercation probably had something to do with the use of Martin and Jordan. Harris has declined interview requests this week.
Fullback Jerald Sowell had to stop the two from coming to blows. After Edwards turned away, Harris said something else and Edwards started yelling again. Sowell said he did not know why his coaches were arguing.
"I look at myself as a peacemaker," Sowell said about stepping between the coaches. "I don't like confrontations like that. I knew it wasn't right at the time. We were trying to win the game."
After the Jets won 20-17 in overtime, Edwards was asked who won the argument. Edwards smirked and said, "The head coach always wins."
Perhaps that is why Jordan was on the field late in overtime for the biggest run of the game, a 19-yarder that put the Jets in field-goal range for the winner.
Jordan, who becomes a free agent when the season ends, could be franchised to keep him from leaving. He refused to talk about his contract situation.