But year after year, Edelman has been the go-to receiving target for Tom Brady. There’s a reason for this. And Super Bowl LIII proved it. Against the Los Angeles Rams, Edelman picked apart a talented secondary, making big-time catches possession after possession. In a low scoring 13-3 New England Patriots victory, it marks Edelman’s third Super Bowl victory. His 10 receptions for 141 yards is another reminder of in a defensive battle, Edelman could provide much-needed offense.
“It feels great to win this game,” says Edelman. “We have a resilient bunch and its unbelievable.”
Edelman Always Had Faith He Could Make It
The confetti falling from the ceiling in Mercedes-Benz Stadium was far from Julian Edelman’s mind when he was first starting out playing football. In high school, playing for Woodside, Edelman was a quarterback. As a senior, he led his team to a 13-0 championship winning season. He generated 2,237 yards and 29 touchdowns, in addition to 964 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing the ball.
Edelman’s quarterbacking would continue when he committed to play for Kent State. But in his senior year, he threw 13 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He was deemed as too small for the quarterback position. Edelman was not invited to the 2009 NFL Combine.
Most players wouldn’t be given the chance, given the stock that Edelman had heading into the draft. Except for the New England Patriots. An organization, known to mold unknown players into future superstars. They selected Edelman in the seventh round. The early years were tricky. Edelman had to watch as Wes Welker was Tom Brady’s favorite receiving target. But the knowledge gained from those experiences was pivotal for the young receiver, as he slowly transitioned into a starting role within the Bill Belichick system.
“Everything happens for a reason,” says Edelman looking back coming into the league as a 7th round draft pick. “As a little boy, I was taught to work hard and put in extra time. See where it goes. It’s what I’ve tried to do my whole career.”
Edelman Goes from 7th-Round Draft Pick to Three-Time Super Bowl Champion
Once Wes Welker moved on from the Patriots, Edelman became the number one receiver. Never a deep threat, Edelman is elusive, using his nimbleness to make the catches in the slot position that Tom Brady loves to throw the ball to. It is this skill set that forged the receiver into a go-to target for Brady, an inseparable duo that continues to achieve greatness on a football field. When the clock struck zero in Super Bowl LIII, Brady and Edelman shared a long embrace. They were champions once again and Brady could not have been more supportive of his receiving teammate, who was awarded the Super Bowl MVP.
“Julian Edelman is a fighter,” said Brady after winning his sixth Super Bowl against the Rams. “I’m just so proud of him. He’s been an incredible player for this team in the playoffs and cemented himself in the history of the NFL for what his accomplishments are.”
The NFL postseason is the arena where players cement their legacies as the legends of the game of football. For Edelman, the big games are where he shines the brightest. In Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks, Edelman was a critical asset when the Patriots were down 10 in the 4th quarter and Brady needed a comfortable target to get the offense going. Super Bowl LI, the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, Julian Edelman made an unthinkable acrobatic catch, one of the many plays that secured the Patriots 28-3 come from behind win in overtime.
In Super Bowl LIII, the Patriots were in a defensive struggle against the Rams. While the team had chances to score, the Rams defense capitalized on big stops. But it was Edelman who provided the consistent support on offense. In the first half alone, Edelman had 93 yards of receiving, when the Rams total offense had just 57 yards. When he was able to get in open space, Edelman delivered, making key catches for positive yardage to keep the drives alive. He fed off the Atlanta crowd, which was loud as ever in support for the Patriots.
“It felt like a home game here,” said Edelman. “An awesome way to cap off a crazy year.”
Can’t Argue Edelman’s Greatness
For all of Julian Edelman’s career, he has beaten the odds. He battled adversity to make the NFL, despite a below average college career. The receiver was doubted because of his size but overcame it to win multiple Super Bowls.
In Super Bowl LIII, Edelman is now second in all-time career receiving yards in the playoffs, with 1,466 receiving yards. He now looks up to one person and that is Jerry Rice with 2,245 yards.
“To be put in the same sentence as Mr. Rice is pretty crazy,” explained Edelman post game.
There will be the conversation of where Edelman’s place in NFL history is among receivers. Given that he had a slow start to his career, being inducted into the Hall of Fame may seem like a long shot. His admission and suspension as a result of taking performance-enhancing drugs will not help his case.
But Edelman’s contributions that he has made to the New England Patriots organization do not go unnoticed. His perseverance and determination to be a top player have got him to this point, securing not just the Lombardi Trophy but a Super Bowl MVP. Heading into Super Bowl LIII, he didn’t know that he was going to have a performance as he did. But he trusted the process and made sure when called upon, that he could make the necessary plays to make the team successful.
“I was just trying to go out and have a good week of practice and do my job,” said Edelman. “Sometimes, the cookie crumbles that way. It’s pretty surreal to be living out your dream.”
Most certainly, this won’t be the last time we see Edelman shine on the big stage.
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