Scrappy as Hell, the League Will Miss Julian Edelman
There aren’t enough words in the English dictionary to describe Julian Edelman’s work ethic, his competitive nature, his attention to detail, and his love of the game. Julian Edelman was a football player. He could do it all on a football field; throw, catch, carry, punt return, kick-off return, block, tackle and he could probably even kick if you asked him to. He is every undersized, counted-out athlete’s hero. Julian Edelman was not tall, strong, freakishly athletic, or even extremely talented but with his elite mentality and eagerness to learn and get better every day he became an all-time great. To be mentioned in any conversation with Jerry Rice means you did something well.
Minutes after his retirement was confirmed ‘is Julian Edelman a Hall-of-Famer?’ was swirling the internet. That alone goes to show what an incredible career the former 7th round pick went on to have. Tribute videos and emotional farewells came out from every direction, none more beautiful than that of his coach Bill Belichick “By any measure that constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all”. Very accurate to say the least, Edelman had it all and he can retire knowing he can look back at a career that is better than most to ever play the game.
How Did He Do It?
How does a quarterback drafted 232nd overall become one of the most decorated wide receivers in NFL history? Quite simple, be a football player first. What I mean by that is, Julian Edelman wasn’t bound by position or ego. He didn’t care that he’s been playing quarterback his entire life. Julian Edelman was willing to do anything you told him to do and be prepared to do it at an extremely high level.
Football player first. Julian Edelman is the reason people like me fell in love with the beautiful game. He played the game the right way, he never cheated the fans with a lack of effort and he would always give 110% every single time he stepped on the field. He May not have been the flashiest player but every pure football fan loved Julian Edelman. A football fan’s football player.
The name Wes Welker is always associated with Edelman, whether it be the way he runs, his ability in the slot, or how sneaky explosive he was with the ball in his hands after the catch. It was somewhat poetic that Edelman became the player to replace Welker as the latter became older. It wasn’t until 2013 when Welker joined Denver in free agency that Edelman truly emerged as a focal point in the Patriots passing attack.
Different Animal in the Playoffs
Julian Edelman had pretty average numbers in the regular season, numbers that should never be mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Hall of Fame’. He had 6822 receiving yards (156th all-time) and 32 touchdowns (261st all time) but it’s his post-season production that catapults him into the discussion with some of the greats. When most players wilt and crumble under the pressure and the bright lights of the playoffs, Jules (as he was known in New England) rose up above his contemporaries and balled out.
It was in the post-season that Edelman did most of his damage, in 19 career playoff games, Edelman had 118 catches for 1,442 yards and five touchdowns. His receptions and receiving yards total are only behind the great Jerry Rice. Julian Edelman was lights out in the playoffs, he was a security blanket for Tom Brady year in and year out and when he was called upon, he answered every single time.
Hall of Fame Career?
When it’s all said and done, Julian Edelman won’t be remembered for his mind-blowing numbers. It was his ability to be counted and take over games when his team needed him most, making important game-altering plays to swing the impetus his teams’ way. Ultimately, he may not make it into the Hall of Fame because of his number during the regular season. But what we are not going to do is take anything away from one of the greatest playoff performers this sport has ever seen. Not only does he have 3 Super Bowl rings, 10 receptions for 141 yards against the Rams in Super Bowl 53 earned him the Super Bowl MVP (1 of only 7 receivers to win the award).
Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, but Julian Edelman is a massive part of that legacy. Trailing by 10 against Seattle in the 4th quarter, it was Edelman who converted a 3rd and 14 to keep the drive alive, managing to hold onto the ball after a thunderous hit from Kam Chancellor. Before they got to the big game down once again, to the Ravens in the Divisional round, it was again Edelman with the play to swing the momentum. This time throwing a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to tie the game going into the 4th quarter.
Two years later it was Edelman again who made a miraculous catch to allow the Patriots to come back from 28-3 to win against the Falcons in the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. Finally, it only makes sense to end with this, in the 2011 AFC Championship game against the Ravens he was called upon to play on defense. He was required to chase Anquan Boldin around as the Patriots depleted secondary dealt with injuries, and Edelman helped them hang on for the victory. This is Julian Edelman. The ultimate football player.