It was business as usual for the New England Patriots. Another year, another Super Bowl parade in the city of Boston.
But this time, it wasn’t Tom Brady holding up the Super Bowl MVP trophy. For just the second time in the Patriots’ dynasty, a wide receiver made claim to the prize. With 10 receptions for 141 receiving yards, Julian Edelman wasn’t just the best player on New England’s offense — he was the offense.
Edelman’s performance left many fans and analysts wondering just how significant of a career he will leave behind when he eventually hangs up his pads in New England. Sure, regular season numbers don’t really do him any justice, but there has to be some reason he’s the favorite target of the greatest, most-winningest quarterback in NFL history.
He gets knocked by many for being another short, white slot receiver in line with those that came before him in New England. But unlike Wes Welker, Edelman isn’t just dependable, he’s often been the most clutch weapon Tom Brady has ever had at his disposal.
In order to understand Edelman’s eventual Hall of Fame candidacy, one need only look back at the facts. Without his sure-handedness and exceptional route-running, the Patriots might not have won three of their last four Super Bowl appearances.
Edelman, in fact, became the second leading receiver in all-time postseason receptions last Sunday, behind only the great Jerry Rice. Many of those catches came when New England needed them most. Given the significance of Malcolm Butler’s famous interception in Super Bowl XLIX, many people forget that Julian Edelman caught the game-winning touchdown pass with just 2:02 on the clock.
Or, of course, in Super Bowl LI, when he helped Brady lead New England down the field with one of the most incredible catches you’ll ever see on a football field, let alone a Super Bowl. It came with just over two minutes on the clock, with New England down eight and driving for the eventual score that sent the game into overtime.
Edelman again was a model of consistency and dependability in Super Bowl LIII last Sunday. He has proven time and time again that he’ll be there, wide open and 15 yards down the field when you need him the most. It’s no coincidence that last year’s Super Bowl loss to the Eagles is the only one that Edelman has ever not played in.
So, is Edelman a Hall of Famer? With three big games in three big Super Bowl victories, I’d sure say so. I bet if you asked Tom Brady, he’d say so, too. So long as they keep hoisting Lombardi trophies down Boylston Street, you can bet Julian Edelman will have something to do with it.