ATLANTA – Julian Edelman – Hall of Famer?
After the New England Patriots’ MVP performance Sunday night in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams, that question is going to be asked more and more.
Edelman ran free all night on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf, finishing with 141 yards on 10 catches. For a large portion of the game, he was the only offensive player on either team doing much of anything.
“Just try to get open. Your job as a receiver is to get open and catch the ball and block in the run game,” he said. “My name was called. I was asked to make a couple plays and we were able to do that. There were a lot of plays by other guys. The defense was unreal, holding that offense to three points. It’s pretty crazy. They should be the MVP – the whole defense.”
Edelman, though, was a worthy selection. He now has 115 postseason receptions, second in NFL history behind Jerry Rice, who had 151. He also has 1,412 yards, second behind Rice’s 2,254.
“I mean, he just played the best game he has all year,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said of Edelman. "So proud of him and what he’s accomplished. He just fought it out – grinded it out just like everyone else. He always does. He’s a fighter, man, that kid. I’m just so proud of him. He’s been an incredible player for us in the playoffs and he just cemented himself, again, in the history of the NFL for what his accomplishments are.”
Edelman missed all of the 2017 season because of a torn ACL. He also missed the first four games of this year because of an NFL suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He had 74 catches for 850 yards and six touchdowns after coming back.
It’s his accomplishments in the postseason, though, that have his name being floated as a potential Hall of Famer. He's been a part of three Super Bowl titles -- not bad for a former college quarterback at Kent State who was a seventh-round draft pick.
“It’s pretty surreal. Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” he said. “I preach that, and I guess you have to live it.”
“I am so proud of ‘Jules.’ I do not really have a lot of words to describe what Julian did today,” added fellow receiver Chris Hogan. “Where he’s been and what he’s had to battle and what he’s had to overcome – I’m really proud of him.”
The Patriots successfully moved Edelman around their formation, sometimes lining him up on the same side as tight end Rob Gronkowski. That meant the Rams couldn’t focus their coverage on stopping just one of them. That resulted in Edelman’s sixth career postseason game with at least 100 receiving yards, and his second this year after a 151-yard performance against the Los Angeles Chargers in the divisional round.
Edelman became just the second Patriot not named Brady to win a Super Bowl MVP, joining receiver Deion Branch in Super Bowl XXXIX. He’s the seventh wide receiver to win Super Bowl MVP, and first since Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII.
“It just matters that we won, man,” he said. “It was a crazy year. We had a resilient bunch of guys. It was unreal.”