Belichick: MVP Edelman hardest worker I’ve coached

ATLANTA – Julian Edelman is going to Disney World.

A flier draft pick – No. 232 in 2009 – from the Mid-American Conference, Edelman earned MVP honors Sunday for his latest standout performance in a Super Bowl. Edelman caught 10 passes for 141 yards and gained eight yards on one rushing attempt.

Introduced Monday morning as MVP of Super Bowl LIII by commissioner Roger Goodell, who noted his “off the charts” playoff performances, Edelman will extend his latest ride with a parade this afternoon at Disney World. By Tuesday at noon, Edelman should be near the end of his third victory parade in Boston.

Julian Edelman
FJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

“To see how this team grinded and worked each week, when things weren’t at its best, we constantly tried to improve,” Edelman said. “A resilient group. One you’ll never forget.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday morning Edelman is one of the players he never could forget, putting him in a class with wide receiver Troy Brown and Mike Vrabel.

“No one has worked harder in my career to develop his skills and his craft at a position he’d never played,” Belichick said.

Edelman caught 26 passes in the three playoff wins this postseason, going for 151 yards against the Chargers, 96 yards at Kansas City and polishing it off with his MVP performance Sunday. Edelman caught passes on all three scoring drives for New England.

“I’m just so proud and happy to be a part of the team,” Edelman said. “Guys that just battled, brought their lunchpail, hard hat to work. A lot of noises out there – we just continued to try to get better.”

New England converted only three third downs Sunday night – all Edelman receptions. But when asked what his favorite play in the victory was, Edelman went off script.

“The knee at the end,” he said with a smile barely visible through a thicket-level beard.

A close friend and confidant of quarterback Tom Brady, Edelman found Brady immediately after the game for a celebratory embrace.

“He just said, ‘I’m proud of you.’ That was big,” Edelman said. “It’s pretty flattering. He’s a fighter. It’s a flattering comment to hear that from a guy you look up to.”

Teammates in the clutch

Edelman credited Brady for coming through in the clutch.

“He’s just an awesome player, great teammate, friend, and I’m so proud of everything he’s done for our team,” Brady said.

Belichick recalled Monday, a few hours after the party in celebration of Super Bowl LIII ended in downtown Atlanta, unearthing Edelman as a seventh-round pick from Kent State playing like he belonged on the same field with Ohio State.

“It’s an incredible story. He played the game with an intensity that was hard for them to handle,” Belichick said. “I go back to his first playoff game against the Ravens, he was probably our best player on the field. He played that game the way he played the Ohio State game against Kent State. We didn’t play very well that day. But I know he did. He caught a slip screen, broke about five tackles for a first down.”

“He’s there every day competing against himself trying to get better,” Belichick said.

Following Sunday’s effort, Edelman, 32, now ranks second all-time in playoff receiving yards with 1,412. Edelman has at least five receptions in 13 consecutive postseason games, the longest streak in playoff history. His 115 career postseason receptions rank second in NFL history. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice holds the record with 151 career catches in the playoffs.

Not all celebrated Edelman’s honor.

USA Today published an editorial Monday arguing Edelman shouldn’t even have been on the field due to the performance-enhancing drug violation, revealed when the 198-pound receiver was suspended four games to start the 2018 season.

Edelman, who missed the 2017 season with a torn ACL, said he was driven by watching New England lose in the Super Bowl last season to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“My head was down, just trying to go out and try to win ball games and help the team,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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