New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is excited for “Julian Edelman Day.” He just hopes he doesn’t become the butt of any of the retired wideout’s jokes.
The Patriots will honor Edelman, who retired earlier this year, at halftime of Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium.
“It’ll be great to see Julian,” Belichick said with a smile Friday morning. “Assuming he doesn’t, like, roast me or get into a big impersonation.”
Edelman pulled out his trademark Belichick impression at his new job as an analyst for “Inside the NFL,” spotlighting poor decisions in a segment called (*Belichick voice*) “What Are We Doing?” Belichick teased his own Edelman impersonation earlier this week but chose not to reveal it.
Zingers aside, Edelman is one of Belichick’s all-time favorite players. His remarkable rise from college quarterback to punt return specialist to Tom Brady’s No. 1 target to the second-most productive postseason receive in NFL history and, finally, to Super Bowl MVP will make the 35-year-old a shoo-in for the Patriots Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.
“He had a tremendous career,” Belichick said. “Had tremendous production in every area — receiving, run after catch, punt returns, was a good blocker, was a really tough, competitive kid. He was right up there at the top of the guys that I’ve coached. … It’ll be good to see him again and recognize him for the great career he had here and how much he meant to this team, this organization, and how much he stepped up in big games year after year, week after week.”
Edelman, who cited knee injuries as his reason for retirement, said Thursday he has “a crazy amount of respect” for Belichick.
“I love the guy,” he said in a video conference. “Yeah, he may have been hard to play for. And, you know, we all know Coach Bill. But he ultimately was the guy that gave me an opportunity to go out and fulfill a dream of mine. And I learned so much on how to prepare for him, and just the consistent grind and relentlessness and lack of complacency was great for me as a young adult, just to bring to my whole life.
“And you feel that with other guys as well. But with him, the way he thinks and the way he calculates. Literally, it’s been a blessing to get to go to that. I love that coaching style. That was something that I was used to growing up. I love Coach, and I appreciate him for everything he’s done for me.”
Edelman ranks second in Patriots franchise history with 620 career receptions, trailing only Wes Welker. He played in four Super Bowls during his 12 seasons in New England, winning three.