ATLANTA — Julian Edelman and Tom Brady hugged for a long time on the field after the game.
For only the second time in his six Super Bowl wins, Brady didn’t win MVP of the game. That went to Edelman, and it’s a good bet that Brady didn’t mind.
Edelman was fantastic, especially in the first half when both offenses were struggling to get anything going. He finished with 10 catches for 141 yards. After the game he had a Super Bowl MVP trophy (receiver Deion Branch is the only Patriot other than Brady to win one) and was filming a Disney commercial.
“He’s a fighter, man, that kid,” Brady said. “I’m just so proud of him. He’s been an incredible player for this team in the playoffs and he just cemented himself, again, in the history of the NFL for what his accomplishments are.”
Edelman’s spot in history will be debated as his career goes on. His playoff resume gets better and better, and his Super Bowl MVP performance will lead off whatever Hall of Fame argument he has when he’s done.
There will be time down the road for that talk. On Sunday night, after the Patriots’ 13-3 win, he looked exhausted. He spoke in a low voice and just seemed a bit overwhelmed by a hard-fought championship win.
“I’m getting to live out a dream,” Edelman said. “It’s pretty surreal right now.”
Julian Edelman has a clutch game
In a game that lacked much offense, Edelman was the one player who was able to continuously get free. Perhaps the most important stat of Super Bowl LIII was that eight of Edelman’s 10 catches went for first downs.
“I was asked to make a couple of plays, and we were able to do that,” Edelman said.
Edelman had a monster postseason, with 26 catches for 388 yards in three games. That’s nothing new for Edelman, who trails only Jerry Rice in career postseason receiving yards.
“It’s an honor to be put in the same sentence as Mr. Rice, Jerry Rice,” Edelman said.
He has three Super Bowl rings. And a Super Bowl MVP trophy, only the seventh receiver to win the award. He has plenty of big Super Bowl moments too, from his game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks, his juggling miracle catch in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons or any one of his big catches Sunday. For Edelman, a college quarterback at Kent State and a seventh-round pick, his resume has far surpassed anything he could have realistically imagined.
“I was always taught as a young boy, work as hard as you can, put in the extra time and we’ll see where it goes,” Edelman said.
Edelman’s long road to Super Bowl MVP
Perhaps part of the reason Edelman seemed spent after Sunday’s game was that the past 18 months weren’t easy.
Last preseason, he tore his ACL and missed all of the 2017 season. The Patriots lost Super Bowl LII without him, and perhaps he would have made a difference in that loss to the Eagles.
“When your team is going out there and playing in the Super Bowl and you don’t get to help or you were not a factor, it was definitely very tough,” Edelman said.
Then to start this season, Edelman was suspended four games for a positive PED test, for which he apologized and claimed he didn’t know what happened.
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do,” Edelman said. “I preach that, and I guess you have to live to it.”
Whatever happened over the past year-and-a-half, the season ended with confetti falling, and good friends Edelman and Brady celebrating another championship with a big hug.
“Just two Bay Area boys that love football, love to compete and are living out our dreams,” Edelman said.
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