Logan Gooley ‘24 and Patrick Grudberg ‘24
On Monday, April 12th, the New England Patriots announced their decision to release long tenured wide receiver Julian Edelman. Plagued by chronic knee injuries, the longtime Patriot only played six games last season for Bill Belichek’s squad, missing the playoffs for the first time in Edelman’s career. Shortly after his release, Edelman announced his formal retirement from football. While the wideout will most likely not be making the trip to Canton, his legacy will forever be remembered by all Patriots fans who had the opportunity to watch him play.
Coming out of high school, Edelman had no scholarships to a Division One school. He played quarterback at the College of San Mateo, a community college in California. After one season there, the California native transferred to Kent State where he finished the last three years of his college career. Edelman threw for just shy of five thousand yards in those three seasons, adding on 30 passing touchdowns in the process. Knowing that his skills at quarterback would not be enough at the next level, he prepared for the draft at other skill positions, mainly wide receiver. After not hearing his name called for the first two days of the draft, the New England Patriots took a chance on him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
In his first four years in New England, Edelman totaled under 1,000 receiving yards and only four touchdowns. However, after Patriots legend Wes Welker left for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Edelman eclipsed one thousand yards and six touchdowns, establishing himself as Tom Brady’s new reliable receiver. Edelman continued to excel for the rest of his career at receiver, finishing his tenure with 6,202 yards and 36 touchdowns. While never selected to a Pro Bowl, Edelman proved to be one of Tom Brady’s best receivers and one of his favorite teammates.
Growing up a Patriots fan, Edelman has always been my favorite player. From his first career touchdown against the Colts in 2009 to his last career game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week Seven this year, Edelman has blessed me and all of New England with amazing memories of his scrapy playstyle. I’d like to personally share my favorite memory of Edelman as a tribute to all he has done for New England fans. There was no better Edelman memory than the crucial role he played in the Patriots 25 point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. I remember sitting at home watching the Falcons run up and down the field on the Patriots, the LeGarrette Blount fumble, and the Tom Brady pick-six. After a Tevin Coleman touchdown early in the third quarter, I assumed the game was over. Holding back tears, I decided to wait until the end of the third quarter until I would go to bed. However, after the James White touchdown, I decided to watch a little longer. After the Hightower strip, I started to believe that we had a chance again.
But it wasn’t until Edelman’s tipped catch over three defenders that I knew we were going to win. I can still remember Joe Buck’s play by play call of the spectacular catch; “Here’s Edelman, broken up. And the pass is — no sign yet. Edelman comes down with the football they’re saying it’s a catch!” From behind Troy Aikman’s analysis, you could hear Edelman scream “I caught it!” as the officials reviewed the play. In that moment, all I thought about was the pain of the David Tyree and Mario Manningham catches that cost us Super Bowls XLII and XLVI respectively. I thought to myself, “Man, we finally got one.” It was one of the most magical moments in recent sports history, and to this day his catch inspires me to never give up. After his catch, the Falcons defense could nothing but watch as Tom Brady, James White, and the Patriots offense tied the game and eventually won Super Bowl 51 in what would be one of the greatest games in Super Bowl history.