MIAMI — Some tough love can go a long way in the NFL, and it can help build one of the greatest postseason wide receivers in NFL history.
Patriots wideout Julian Edelman picked Wes Welker’s brain endlessly while he was learning under the former New England receiver, and Welker didn’t play softball with his understudy.
“He was trying to get better,? Welker said Wednesday. “I would have tried to do the same thing, for sure. He was trying to get better all of the time, and I was probably pretty tough on him because we needed him to step up. He may have a bitter taste in his mouth about that stuff or whatever, but it was all about trying to make our team better and make sure he knows, ‘If you do that, it?s not right. Don?t do that. You?re screwing up my play.’ He was good, and he listened, and he?s done really well for himself.”
That, he has. Edelman is a potential Hall of Famer as the second-best postseason receiver in league history behind Jerry Rice. Welker was a more productive regular-season wide receiver than Edelman, but Edelman also has the edge in longevity.
Edelman, at age 33, caught 100 passes for 1,117 yards with six touchdowns this past season. Welker, now the San Franciso 49ers? wide receivers coach, only managed 49 catches for 464 yards with two touchdowns in his age-33 season. He was retired from football by the time he was 34.
“It?s incredible,” Welker said of Edelman’s 2019 season on Wednesday. “Shoot, the body starts to fail you especially when you start to get to that age. It gets harder and harder to get open. You?re almost using your savviness instead of your skillset. That?s always hard to do. It’s definitely very hard, especially when you start getting into your mid-30s to be able to put up those types of numbers.”
Edelman has three Super Bowl rings and one Super Bowl MVP. Welker was on the losing side in all three Super Bowls he played. He?s trying to garner his first championship win as a coach with the 49ers as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.