Former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman appeared on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast Wednesday to discuss retirement, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, his favorite Patriots memories and more.
Here are 10 takeaways from that interview:
1. Edelman discussed the knee injury that ultimately led him to announce his retirement last week, one month shy of his 35th birthday.
“Father Time is undefeated, and that’s how it goes,” he said. “I’m not going to go out there and try to play where you look like a bobblehead out there, like a 36-year-old old guy lacing up the knee brace, the back brace. I don’t want to have that. I don’t want to look like that. I respect the game too much. It’s been too good to me. So it’s one of those things where if I can’t go out there and be the player that I know I am in this league and that I’ve been for a consistent period of time, I have no problem walking away because I enjoyed the time that I did have in this league.”
2. Edelman said he and Brady had an innate connection, forged by years of practice on fields in California and Montana, that allowed them to freelance within the Patriots’ offensive game plan.
“We definitely had some times and some moments where he would just look at me and we would do something completely that we weren’t supposed to do,” Edelman said. “And the coaches used to get on us all the time like, ‘I know you guys are doing what you guys do, and we can’t say anything because you guys execute it.’ Coaches get mad with that kind of stuff.
“There would be a couple times where (Brady) would give me a signal where it would be a quick out, and I knew he saw that I couldn’t run a quick out here because there’s nothing there, and I knew he saw that we were backside and a slant would be wide open. I would just run a slant, and this guy would hit me on the slant and we’d go 15, 20 yards out the gate on it. … There would be times where we would just kind of do our own thing.”
3. Edelman’s favorite play from his NFL career? It isn’t the double pass against Baltimore or his circus grab in Super Bowl LI. It’s his fourth-quarter catch in Super Bowl XLIX that resulted in him being run over by imposing Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor.
“I loved the third-and-14 against the Seattle Seahawks when Tom hit me late across the middle and Kam Chancellor put a little heat on me and hit me hard,” Edelman said. “That whole week going into that game, all we kept on hearing was the Legion of Boom, the No-Fly Zone, the this, the that. That was a cool moment when I knew I got (Chancellor’s) best and I was able to get up and go and then make a play in the next couple plays. Like, hey, we’re here to play.
“We may not be the flashy skill-position group, we?re not the Legion of Boom, we?re not this — which, I have nothing but respect for those guys. Those guys were studs — Earl Thomas, Sherm (Richard Sherman), friggin’ Chancellor. But that was one of the things. That was my play that I love. That’s hard-nosed football right there. When I transferred to receiver, it was always, ‘Can you make the catch over the middle?’ And that was the catch over the middle in the biggest moment. That was a fun play.”
Edelman, who went on to catch what proved to be the game-winning touchdown pass one drive later, insisted he didn’t suffer a concussion on Chancellor’s booming hit.
“Everyone thinks I was, but nah, I wasn’t concussed,” he said. “… I definitely got smoked. … I don’t think I had a concussion.”
4. Edelman’s favorite memory, though, was the Patriots’ overtime road win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game.
“The sheer fact that my generation of Patriots, we never won on the road in the playoffs,” he explained. “… We got beat in Denver twice by Denver (in the AFC title game) — close games, last plays of the game — and to go into Kansas City, which, that place gets rocking and that team?s a really good team. To go in and get that W against the odds of that game, it was special. That?s a special one. The flight home –those are what you?re going to miss, the flights. That was a fun game.”
The Patriots won Super Bowl LIII two weeks later, with Edelman catching 10 passes for 141 yards to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.
5. Edelman said he had a “wonderful conversation” with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after he made his retirement decision.
“He thanked me, and I thanked him,” Edelman said. “I’ll leave the words between us, but it was something that really touched me, because he’s a man of few compliments. That’s his shtick. His thing is, ‘I don’t care who the hell you are, you’re on the table to get MF’d if you don’t do your job,’ which, I always needed that. I loved that. My dad did that with me growing up. It was a tough love thing, what I grew up with. And so to hear Coach say some of the things I said, that really made my farewell.”
Belichick showered Edelman with praise in a statement last week, calling him “the ultimate competitor” and “the quintessential throwback player.”
6. Would Edelman consider coaching in the future?
“You know what, no, probably not,” he said. “I want to have a life. I’ve lived this now for 12 years, literally 14-hour days. Get up 4:30, get to the facility 5:15, body work, workout, ball drill, meetings, practice, more workout, more meetings — and the coaches are there for, like, 18 hours. And the sheer fact that I’ve seen this group do that, if I were to go somewhere else and not do that, then I’m thinking I’m already in the hole, because I don’t feel like doing that anymore.
“I’ll probably end up transferring and doing that in the next life, but right now, I have no interest in it. I always tell the scouts, if you need a guy to look at a guy, a receiver, work him out — I always tell them, let me look a guy in the eyes, and I’ll tell you if he can play or not.”
For now, Edelman is taking the media route. He’s joining the cast of “Inside the NFL” this season, and his production company, Coast Productions, will be producing content for networks like Showtime, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
7. Asked about the “Wally Pipp” Wes Welker video that made the rounds last week, Edelman explained how his relationship with Welker differed from the one he had with current Patriots punt returner Gunner Olszewski.
Welker still was in the prime of his career when Edelman landed in New England in 2009. By the time Olszewski arrived in 2019 and subsequently relieved Edelman of punt-return duties, Edelman was a 33-year-old veteran with more than a decade of NFL experience.
“I was always in Gunner?s corner,” Edelman said. “I give Gunner all my tips. I?m still competing against him, but we were in different parts of our career. I was 11 years in when Gunner got in. (I came in) when Wes was, like, seven years deep and still going, so it was different. We also had a different relationship, me and Wes. It wasn’t the same. And Bill probably saw that. He was probably digging at him a little just to get under his skin and get him to play his best. That’s what Bill does. He gets the best out of guys.”
8. Edelman’s favorite Patriots teammate? He said it’s tough to pick just one, but the first he mentioned was special teams captain Matthew Slater. The two lived together for several years early in their respective NFL careers.
“Him and his family have been an unbelievable influence on me,” Edelman said. “I’m a wild man — everyone knows that — and Matt is, like, the reverend. We had two polar opposite sides of everything, and we lived together, and when times were at its lows, my guy would always help me out mentally. He would always be the guy. … He’ll be a brother for live.”
Edelman also named Rob Ninkovich, Danny Amendola, James Develin and, of course, Brady. He said the Patriots “lived and died by” Develin, the hard-charging fullback who retired last offseason.
“James Develin, he was an ultimate teammate,” Edelman said.
9. Edelman, who won three Super Bowls and retires as one of the greatest postseason players in NFL history, leaves the game with no regrets.
“It’s almost satisfying because I left everything on the field, honestly,” he said. “I’m not a greedy guy. What else do I have to play for? I set out to go out and make a team, try to win some championships, and honestly, I’ve accomplished everything — plus more — than I ever thought I would have going into my rookie year. If I were, in my rookie year, to look on to my career and say this is what it was going to be, I would have said, ‘Nah, no shot.’ That?s how much work I had to put into this whole thing, and it’s something where I’m proud of my career. I’m proud of everything. I’m proud of the relationships and the teams I?ve been a part of.”
10. Though he has no plans to return to football, Edelman knows speculation about him potentially joining Brady in Tampa Bay will continue to bubble.
“Honestly, probably as long as he’s playing,” Edelman said.