FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman grew up idolizing Jerry Rice as a child in the Bay Area. Now, Rice is the only player who sits above him on the NFL’s all-time postseason receptions list.
Edelman has caught 105 passes in 17 career playoff games for the New England Patriots, good for second in league history behind Rice’s 151.
Even a moderately productive performance against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII would push Edelman into second in postseason receiving yards, as well, as he needs just 19 to pass Cliff Branch (1,289) and 45 to leapfrog Michael Irvin (1,315). Rice also leads that list with an untouchable 2,245 yards.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who, like Edelman, grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, knows even being mentioned in the same sentence as the greatest wide receiver of all time is a remarkable accomplishment for his longtime teammate.
“It’s really beyond incredible for Jules to do that,” Brady said Saturday. “I mean, when you talk about Jerry Rice, that’s the guy that’s set every receiving record in the history of the NFL, basically. And for Jules to be right there as one of two guys including him, it’s just such a credit to Jules.
“And look at his stature — he wasn’t built like Megatron (Calvin Johnson). He was built the way he was built, and I think he’s just worked so hard over the years to learn how to play receiver. I think his quarterback background has probably helped him in terms of knowing where to be, knowing how to get open and knowing when the quarterback wants to get rid of the ball. He’s just done an incredible job.”
Each of Edelman’s 105 postseason receptions has come on a pass thrown by Brady, who shares a close bond with the 32-year-old wide receiver. Brady, 41, affectionately referred to Edelman as his “little brother.”
“We have a great relationship, Jules and I,” Brady said. “I trust him so much, and we put in so many hours together in the meeting room and the film room. Obviously, he and I go back a long way, him going to (College of San Mateo) and my relationship with Tom Martinez going back to CSM. From Redwood City to Kent State, which is close to Michigan, and then drafted here, played receiver but he was a quarterback.
“He’s always been kind of like my little brother, in a good way. I don’t have a little brother, but he’s kind of like a little brother. He knows how much I love him, and what he’s done with his career has been incredible. He’s so impressive as a player and a leader.
“To go from playing quarterback in college to receiver in the pros, and then to become really a dominant receiver in the pros, I think speaks to his work ethic. I’m just so happy in everything that he achieves, and obviously, I can’t say enough good things about Jules.”
Brady has targeted Edelman 10 or more times in each of their last 11 playoff games together. Edelman has surpassed 85 receiving yards in nine of those 11 games, including a nine-catch, 151-yard effort against the Los Angeles Chargers in this year’s divisional round and seven for 96 in last Sunday’s overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
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