The NFL’s version of a Swiss Army knife is Super Bowl LIII MVP.
Julian Edelman spent his college years as a quarterback, first at the College of San Mateo in California before transferring to Kent State. But in his 10-year professional career, Edelman has made his case in the NFL as a hall-of-fame wide receiver.
“Did I ever think I was going to be an NFL receiver?” Edelman said of his college days. “At the time, I didn’t. I was just trying to go out and help Kent State win some ball games. I really wasn’t thinking about that.”
Now, at 32 years old, with his 10 catches for 141 yards in Sunday’s 13-3 win against the Los Angeles Rams, Edelman has won his third Super Bowl and is the seventh wide receiver to win Super Bowl MVP. It comes after he missed all of last season because of a torn ACL and the first four games of this season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“I wasn’t focused on that,” Edelman said of his performance. “I was just trying to go out and have a good week of practice and do my job. Sometimes, the cookie crumbles that way.”
Said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: “Julian always gives us those kinds of plays — tough plays, tough catches, catch-and-run plays, breaking tackles for a few extra yards, third down. He did a tremendous job.”
A seventh-round pick by New England in the 2009 NFL draft, Edelman has done it all: He’s covered kicks, returned kicks, played slot receiver, outside receiver and slot defender.
He already was part of Super Bowl lore. In Super Bowl LI, Edelman made one of the all-time best catches to keep the Patriots’ greatest comeback in Super Bowl history alive. He fought off three Atlanta Falcons defenders — even going through the legs of one of them — and somehow scooped up the ball before it hit the ground.
And on Sunday, he was there when the Patriots needed him again.
“He’s a fighter, man, that kid,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on Sunday. “He’s — I’m just so proud of him. He’s been an incredible player for this team in the playoffs and he just cemented himself, again, in the history of the NFL for what his accomplishments are.”
Edelman said Brady is like a brother to him.
“He has helped me so much,” he said. “He has been a huge part of mentally kind of coaching me up just through his actions and how he is as a football player, as a professional, as a father and as a family man. It is an honor to get to play with a guy like that.”
In addition to already having the second-most receptions in postseason history, Edelman is now second all time in postseason receiving yards. He trails just the legendary Jerry Rice in both categories.
“Oh man, I am so proud of Jules,” Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan said. “I do not really have a lot of words to describe what Julian did today. Where he has been and what he has had to battle and what he has had to overcome — I am really proud of him.”
In a game that didn’t have much offense — the 16 combined points by the Patriots and Rams was the lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history — Edelman was the star, tying a Super Bowl record with seven first-half receptions and catching a pass during New England’s fourth-quarter drive that led to the game’s lone touchdown.
“My name was called; I was asked to make a couple plays and we were able to do that,” Edelman said.
He did allow, though, that it would be hard to imagine all he has accomplished with his improbable journey to the NFL.
“I’m getting to live out a dream, so it’s pretty surreal right now,” Edelman said. “I think everything happens for a reason. I was always taught as a young boy that you always just have to work hard. Work as hard as you can, put in the extra time, and we will see where it goes.”