Why Ex-Patriot Julian Edelman Ultimately Loved Playing For Bill Belichick

'I love Coach'

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Unlike Tom Brady, Julian Edelman currently is willing to say legitimately nice things about Bill Belichick.

Edelman on Thursday spoke with reporters ahead of Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium, where the retired receiver will be honored during halftime of the New England Patriots’ matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Toward the end of his press conference, Edelman was asked to share his thoughts on Belichick, who drafted the Kent State product in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

“I have a crazy amount of respect for coach Belichick,” the 35-year-old said during a Zoom call. “I love the guy. Yeah, he may have been hard to play for. And, you know, (mocking Belichick’s voice), 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.”

Against all odds, Edelman put together a remarkable 12-year run in New England.

Often Brady’s favorite target, Edelman finished his career second in Patriots history with 620 receptions, fourth with 6,822 receiving yards and ninth with 36 receiving touchdowns. His 118 postseason receptions rank second all-time in NFL history behind Jerry Rice’s 151.

The Patriots and the Saints will kick off Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET.

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