Photo from the Boston Globe.
By Terrance Turner
April 12, 2021
After 12 tumultuous seasons, Julian Edelman is calling it a career.
The Patriots wide receiver, 34, announced his retirement today, after the New England Patriots released him due to a failed physical. In a video posted on social media, Edelman made it official. Dressed in a black suit, he takes a seat right in the middle of the field in Gillette Stadium, then looks around as cheering crowds and exuberant announcers are heard in the background. He then looks into the camera and delivers the news.
“Nothing in my career has ever come easy and no surprise, this isn’t gonna be easy either,” Edelman said. “Now, I’ve always said I’m gonna go until the wheels come off — and they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football.”
Edelman has been affected by a nagging injury for the past couple seasons. He had knee surgery in October, then tried to hop right back on the field in December — even though the Patriots were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It wasn’t the first time that he’s tried to play through pain.
Born in the Bay Area, Edelman played football at Woodside High School, even though he weighed only about 100 pounds (per the San Francisco Chronicle). In an interview with the Boston Globe, his father frank Edelman remembered: “He was four-foot-nothing, just getting killed out there. And all I would say is, we kept our focus going year to year — let’s just be a better player, let’s keep our grades up, and let’s just focus on our task at hand. And then finally, at end of his junior year of high school, he added something like 50-60 pounds, he grew like eight inches . . . and everything began to turn.’’
Indeed. Edelman, who grew to 5’10”, played quarterback and led the Wildcats to a 13-0 record his senior year. He later played QB at Kent State University in Ohio, where he broke offensive records. He was the school’s leading rusher, racking up 13 touchdowns. It was only the start of what would be a record-breaking career.
Edelman was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2009. His first year was a struggle. By his dad’s count, the then-23-year-old Patriot rookie stayed on the field that 2009 season with a medical mishmash that included four hernias and a blown adductor muscle. “He would call me at night and say, ‘Oh, dad, I can’t even move.’ Just groaning,’’ the senior Edelman told the Boston Globe. “And I’d say, ‘Son, you are my hero, I don’t even care. . . . You have done enough.’ ’’
But he wasn’t done yet. Edelman evolved into one of New England’s best and most reliable receivers. His highlight-reel catches helped the Patriots to a dynasty: they won the Super Bowl in 2015, 2017, and 2019. His fourth-quarter touchdown reception put the Patriots ahead 28-24 to win over the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. And it was his dramatic on-the-ground catch (between three defenders!) that helped the Patriots pull off a dramatic comeback against the Falcons in 2017.
In 2019, Edelman had 10 catches for 141 yards in the Patriots 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams. His efforts earned him the Super Bowl MVP. He was the first wide receiver to be named MVP since Santonio Holmes in 2009. According to the Jerusalem Post, Edelman is the first Jewish player to become Super Bowl MVP.