Some news and notes for this Tuesday:
1) Obviously, the biggest news on Monday came late in the afternoon as Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman announced his retirement after 12 seasons.
The veteran wideout announced his decision on social media, not long after news came out over the transaction wire that he had been released with a “failed physical” designation.
At 5:33 pm, Edelman posted a nearly 4-minute video on Twitter that was simply captioned “Foxboro Forever” and was clearly shot recently, as it was set at night time with Edelman slowly walking into the frame before sitting down in the center of Gillette Stadium in a director’s chair.
This was a decision he had already reached, with Edelman sitting there thoughtfully looking around as over one minute of audio of highlights from his terrific career played in the background. When it stopped, Edelman, dressed in a navy turtleneck and a grey sportcoat, began to speak, smiling as he addressed the fans as he closed the book on his terrific career.
“Nothing in my career has ever come easy and, no surprise, this isn’t going to be easy either,” began Edelman. “Now, I’ve always said, ‘we’ll 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. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family and I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot.”
“There are a million people I have to thank. Mr. Kraft, the Kraft family, I’ve learned so much from you guys on and off the field. Coach Belichick, you gave me my opportunity, always love you for that. My teammates, we’ve gone to war, we’ve lost some, we’ve won some, you guys will always be my brothers. To all my coaches that I’ve played under, I appreciate all your insight, all your hard work, all your knowledge.”
“To the entire Patriots organization from the meal ladies, the people that clean up after us, the people in the hallways, the training staff, the strength staff, we’ve shared so many awesome memories that I’ll never forget. And of course, my family, you guys have always had my back.”
“It’s been the best 12 years of my life. It’s a hell of a run. And I can’t forget you, Patriot Nation. You guys have welcomed me and my family to a region we do not know, we didn’t know. But now, I’m one of you. I’m going to leave you guys with two words. Foxboro, forever.”
With that, Edelman got up and walked away, with a caption then appearing that read, “It’s been a helluva story. Thanks for everything.” That was then followed by “Foxboro Forever.”
From there, with his hands in his pockets and a somber look on his face, he walked off the field toward the end zone. He looked around for a few moments, but in true Edelman fashion, he ended the video with a bit of humor as he looked down at his watch and said, “beam me up.”
And then he disappeared.
Well played, #11.
Foxboro Forever pic.twitter.com/x3SDDPJoTX
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) April 12, 2021
2) His run was pretty amazing, and the story of how he came to become such a key player for the Patriots is pretty impressive. The young 7th round pick out of Kent State was drafted largely because of his athleticism, with the former quarterback joining the team in 2009 during what was the middle of Wes Welker’s tenure with the team.
In the first preseason game of the year that season against the Eagles, Welker was sidelined with a sore knee. That gave Edelman, then a rookie, the opportunity to handle the punt return duties.
On the first opportunity he had to make a play, he was forced to make a fair catch. But on the next one, he took it back 75-yards for the touchdown.
That moment clearly struck a chord with Belichick, as he asked Ernie Adams right after that play if he remembered the name of the player who was replaced by Lou Gehrig. Adams must have replied with “Wally Pipp”, and Belichick then started what became a notable moment on NFL films where he went over and asked Welker if he knew who he was.
When asked, Welker smiled and admitted he had never heard of Pipp, with Belichick explaining that he played first base before Gehrig, who went on to take over the position. “That might be the punt return story,” said Belichick as Nick Caserio stood right behind the two and smiled.
Welker, who could clearly tell he was being jabbed at, laughed and said, “Hey, he can have it.” That led Belichick to sarcastically reply, “Way to compete.”
The veteran continued handling the punt duties, but Edelman continued working and ended up seeing time in the offense that year, catching 37 receptions for 359-yards along with a touchdown. He suffered a broken arm that season during the team’s 59-0 blowout win over the Titans, which up to that point had seen him total 21-receptions for 188yds in five games. In that game against Tennessee, he was a perfect 6-of-6 for 43-yards.
He missed the next four games but returned in Week 16 against the Jaguars where he was targeted twice but caught one pass for 28-yards in the third quarter that set up a touchdown throw from Tom Brady to Randy Moss that put them up 35-0.
From there, everyone remembers the horrific knee injury Welker suffered in the season finale against Houston, which knocked him out for the postseason and ruined a potential playoff run. Edelman caught 10 passes in a 34-27 loss to the Texans, but the Patriots were clearly demoralized and it showed in the next game as the club got dismantled at home in a blowout playoff exit in the Wild Card round against the Ravens. But Edelman came to play, leading all receivers in that game with six receptions for 44-yards and two touchdowns.
3) The work continued, with Edelman even seeing time on defense in 2011, which included a big hit against LaDainian Tomlinson, as well as a bigger role on Monday night football against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He did a good job in that game as New England rolled to a 34-3 win, which also included a 72-yard touchdown return as a punt returner.
“It’s been pretty challenging,” he said after the game. “All I can do is come out here, get away from everything else and focus on my job. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
He finished the season with 13 tackles including one for a loss as well as a quarterback hit, which came in Week 12 against the Eagles during the third-quarter on a 3rd-and-10 against then QB, Vince Young, which forced an incompletion and a punt. New England went on to win that game 38-20.
But his versatility was key that season, with injuries taking their toll on that side of the football and he was definitely a difference-maker. More importantly, the work continued on behind the scenes as he continued growing as a player, which obviously led to him finally establishing a bigger role for himself.
Edelman was always working at becoming a better player.
4) But coming off of the 2012 season, he had suffered a foot injury and a hand injury, which saw him play in just nine games that year, the fewest of his short career. Prior to that season, the Patriots had offered him a two-year deal for what Edelman wrote in his book “Relentless” was “more money than I was currently making”, but he passed at the time after he and his agent decided that he’d be better off addressing it after the season.
After his injuries, the team pulled the deal from two-years down to one, which left Edelman extremely upset. Even worse, that offseason saw the departure of Welker, who left in free agency and the Patriots seemingly replaced him with Danny Amendola, who was thought to be a quicker and more athletic version.
“It was a lot for me to process,” wrote Edelman. “My feelings were hurt, and I was mad with the thought that they had decided to move in a completely different direction. So I looked at other options. I visited the Giants and I had every intention of signing there. As far as the Patriots were concerned, I felt, They don’t want me. They don’t need me. I’ll go where I’m wanted.”
But Edelman’s dad was the one who actually convinced him to stay, telling him, “not to make decisions based on emotion.” So Edelman wrote that by the end of that first week of free agency, “I had simmered down. Now my head and gut were in New England.”
He signed to a one-year deal and came into camp still recovering from his foot injury, which limited him. It was a crowded group that year, with the team having drafted Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce to go along with Amendola’s addition. According to Edelman, Bill Belichick called him into his office to tell him that both Dobson and Boyce were making the team and that he needed to get out there and start practicing.
“We’ve got guys who are capable of playing,” Belichick told him. “You’ve got to show me what you’re capable of doing.”
After their meeting, Edelman wrote, “I wasn’t 100%, but I knew I was out of time. Like my dad says, you can’t snivel over it.” He also said that it motivated him.
“I felt like a cornered animal,” wrote Edelman. “I knew I had to fight my way out of it.”
Edelman came out with a vengeance, immediately establishing himself – not Amendola – as the player who would replace Welker in the offense.
Heading into week one, Amendola opened that door as he was battling a groin injury and Edelman seized the moment, catching 7 passes for 79-yards and two touchdowns during the team’s win over the Bills. Amendola came up with a big performance of his own as he caught 10 passes for 104 yards, but it was costly as he reaggravated the injury.
From there, Edelman never looked back. He caught 13 passes on 18 targets for 78-yards the next week during the club’s win over the Jets, followed by a perfect 7 receptions on 7 targets for 44-yards in a blowout win over the Buccaneers. He then caught 7 passes for 118-yards the next week in a road win against the Falcons.
He would go on to have his best season with the team, finishing with 105 receptions for 1056 yards and six touchdowns and he snatched the role as the team’s go-to guy in the offense and never let it go.
Even better, his hard work also paid off financially, as it earned him a 4-year deal worth $17-million after that season.
5) At the end of the day, he’ll be remembered for his work ethic and his toughness, which played such a massive role in his success and his growth as a player.
Edelman admitted in his book that sometimes, it takes facing the tough facts when you’re dealing with adversity. That was something he admitted wasn’t easy, but it made him a tougher player.
“You need to be called out and told the hard truths. You need to be shown the consequences of what will happen if you screw up,” explained Edleman. “You need people who won’t say, “Everything’s OK…” when it really isn’t. My father pointed out the bad more than the good. And Coach Belichick spends a lot more time telling us what we need to further improve on instead of patting us on the ass for something we’re supposed to be doing anyway. You have to have thick skin in this world.”
He’s a terrific example in proving that even a 7th round pick can become one of the best in the league. While his place in the Patriots Hall of Fame is most definitely a lock, the discussion about his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be the thing most hotly discussed as he leaves the game.
While people will make their case for both sides, the fact he’s even in the discussion is a testament to a guy who became a “helluva story” and a three-time world champion. Needless to say, he’ll definitely be missed.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Aaron Dobson Bill Belichick Danny Amendola Josh Boyce Julian Edelman New England Patriots Wes Welker