Few players personified the so-called “Patriot Way” quite like Julian Edelman. A draft-day afterthought and role player in all three phases of the game, Edelman did not break out until his fifth season with the New England Patriots. But when he did, there was no looking back.
Over the years that followed, his work ethic and playmaking ability helped him become an integral part in the organization — one that won three Super Bowls with him in the starting lineup, including one that saw him take home MVP honors.
It was therefore no surprise to see an outpour of positive statements and reactions in the aftermath of Edelman’s retirement earlier this week. From head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, to teammates past and present, to other players and analysts all over the NFL, Edelman’s praises were sung all over social media and beyond following his announcement on Monday.
Let us now join the choir as well, and share our favorite memories of 12 years of Julian Edelman as a Patriot!
Bernd Buchmasser: Before earning the MVP Award for his performance in Super Bowl 53, there was one moment during a media session leading up to that game I would call my favorite Julian Edelman memory: Deatrich Wise Jr. crashing his presser to ask his opinion about a piece of cake he had found online. Just a 6-foot-5 defensive lineman standing in front of a podium, waiting for Edelman’s judgement as if he was a kid asking his dad if that cake was indeed as pretty as he thought it was.
Edelman earned his teammates’ respect throughout his career, but he also never stopped being the fun-loving California kid. You know, the one you’d ask, “Is this a pretty cake?” And just for the record, it was.
Alec Shane: The very last play of Super Bowl 51 was a toss play to James White that he took across the end zone to complete the greatest comeback in playoff history. We’ve all seen the play hundreds of times at this point.
But what goes unnoticed is the block that Julian Edelman threw to help set the edge and allow White to get into space. Went in motion and just threw his entire body into the play before landing hard on his face and lying on the ground stunned for a moment before turning to watch his teammate score. For every punt return, for every epic catch, for every sound bite, there were five plays like that one- —doing whatever he had to do to help his team win with absolutely no regard for his own body or whether it will show up on the stat sheet. Teammate personified.
Ryan Spagnoli: Everyone always looks to the Atlanta game (deservedly so) but Super Bowl 49 stands out to me. He was absolute nails that game, took several big hits — even screamed “I LOVE GETTING HIT” after getting tackled by Kam Chancellor. His determination and leadership came up huge on Tom’s game winning drive. His game winning touchdown vs Seattle still gives me chills to this day.
Matthew Rewinski: Bill’s line that he said to Edelman on draft night is borderline spooky in hindsight; “Hey well, uh, you’re a hell of a football player. We don’t know what you’re gonna play but we’ll see you at rookie camp.”
Calling a rookie Edelman a hell of a football player is somehow both an egregious understatement and also maybe the best way to sum up his career that culminated in a Super Bowl MVP and ends now with a first-ballot Patriots HOF spot that is honestly not open for debate.
Keagan Stiefel: Edelman was a rookie when I first started to get into football. At that point the Patriots were already the supervillains of the NFL.
He gave them a relatable/underdog player that a young kid learning about the sport would want to root for. 12 years later I still find myself rooting for him, no matter what it is that he’ll be doing.
Marima: One of my early memories of Julian Edelman was watching him from the bleachers at training camp. He was catching punts, for what I learned later was the first time in his career —and he was terrible, dropping at least as many as he caught. Fans even started boo-ing, but he stayed out there and kept at it over time until, no surprise, he got really good. I loved watching Edelman grow with the team, from a poor man’s Wes Welker to Super Bowl MVP. One hell of a story.
SlotMachinePlayer: As sad as I am to hear Julian retired, I’d be sadder still if he could no longer walk off the field. I’m glad he can still go for walks with his little girl, Lily. Maybe someday, he’ll walk her down the aisle.
What are your favorite Julian Edelman memories/plays/moments? Please hare them in the comments below so we can stroll down memory lane together!