With the former Super Bowl MVP turning 34 years old yesterday, I thought it was time to revisit one of my All Time favorite debate topics, and one I feel pretty strongly about. Julian Edelman is a Hall of Famer and I don't just mean the Patriots Hall of Fame in Foxborough, Massachusetts. I mean the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Cue the tears of Patriots haters everywhere.
Now some of you, probably a lot of you, will say I'm crazy because Edelman's career stats in the regular season aren't spectacular. With just 599 receptions for 6507 yards and 36 touchdowns for his regular season career, those numbers aren't exactly what one would call dominating. The story of the NFL isn't told in the regular season though. Legends aren't made in the regular season. For example before I go on, Eli Manning is likely going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for two seasons. Those seasons he made improbable Super Bowl runs and upset the Patriots. Outside of those two years, Eli never won a playoff game, he never led the league in any category except for leading in interceptions three times. He wasn't even an elite quarterback in the years they won the Super Bowl, but when it came down to it in the playoffs and Super Bowls those years, Eli made the plays. Also in making those plays, he may have subsequently kickstarted my descent into alcoholism, but that's a story for another day.
So if the Hall values making the big plays in the big games this highly, as they should, then you can't really keep Julian out of the Hall of Fame. To start, his 118 postseason receptions and 1,442 postseason receiving yards both rank second All Time respectively. In other words, the only receiver to ever have more receptions and yards in the playoffs than Edelman is Jerry Rice. A 5'11 white guy who was drafted as a quarterback has caught more passes for more yards in the playoffs than everybody except the greatest receiver in history. With numbers like that there's certainly a lot of memorable playoff moments. To start you have the 2014 Divisional Round game against the Baltimore Ravens. This was an all-time, classic game, in which the Patriots twice trailed by 14 points and still won. Edelman tallied eight catches for seventy four yards in the game and also completed 1-1 of his passes, for 51 yards and a touchdown to Danny Amendola. That play tied the game late in the fourth quarter. Edelman continued to assert himself as a clutch playoff performer that year in Super Bowl 49, catching nine passes for 109 yards and one touchdown. His longest catch of the night was a twenty three yarder that came after Brady delivered him a strike on third down over the middle. Edelman absorbed a huge hit from Kam Chancellor and kept going. That one touchdown came on a short misdirection route with 2:02 left to play in the game to put the Patriots up 28-24. There is no Malcom Butler play without Edelman first catching that touchdown to give the Patriots the lead.
Then there is the Patriots legendary 28-3 comeback over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51. Edelman recorded five catches for 87 yards, which again isn't anything spectacular. Unless you actually watched the game and didn't just look at the box score. When the Patriots needed a play, late in the game, on what was actually a bad third down pass by Tom Brady that should have been intercepted, Julian Edelman the play of his life.
Yeah, he fucking caught that. The great players elevate their game in the big moments and that's exactly what Edelman did there. You probably think I'm going to talk about his Super Bowl MVP performance next, but I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't first mention the game before that. That was the overtime thriller AFC Championship game in Arrowhead Stadium. Edelman led the Patriots with seven catches for 96 yards, but as always it's worth noting where these catches came. There were three times in that overtime drive the Patriots were faced with a third and ten situation. On two of them, the whole world knew exactly where they were going. Tony Romo literally said exactly what they were going to do. That didn't stop Edelman from getting open over the middle and converting the third downs. For those of you keeping track, that's four of the best playoff games in the history of the NFL that cannot be discussed without mentioning Edelman's contributions. Last, but certainly not least, we have Superr Bowl 53 where Edelman fathered Marcus Peters and the entire Rams secondary for ten catches, 141 yards and the aforementioned Super Bowl MVP award. On a night that neither team was able to do much offensively, Edelman once again took over the game when the lights shined brightest. It was an absolute clinic of route running as a pretty good Rams secondary simply just could not cover him, because great players elevate their game when it matters the most.
Now I don't think he's a First Ballot Hall of Famer like his two counter parts Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, but it was never just Brady and Gronk. It wasn't a duo in New England for the second half of the Dynasty, it was a trio. At the end of it, Julian Edelman is arguably the receiver that the Greatest Quarterback of All Time trusted the most throughout his entire career. It's worth noting that he accomplished all this after being drafted in the seventh round as an undersized quarterback out of Kent State, earning his spot on the team at first as a Punt Returner and Special Teams player. Edelman has also played games at defensive back during his career when the Patriots have been decimated by injuries. I'm not saying Edelman's a Hall of Famer because he's a dominating wide receiver, but because he's simply an all around great football player. Every single year when the Hall of Fame voting comes up I hear that Steve Tasker deserves a spot in the Hall because he was a damn good football player and I'm not saying he wasn't, but if he deserves a spot then so does Julian Edelman.