Viewpoint Edelman relishes bromance with Brady, return to Super Bowl
FOXBORO, Mass. — By now, most everyone with a laptop and Wi-Fi has seen the clip from Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” By now, most everyone with a passing interest in loving or hating the Patriots to the death has seen Julian Edelman approach Tom Brady during the AFC championship.
The moment came on the sideline after the 41-year-old quarterback threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett with 33 seconds left in the first half against the Chiefs. It made the score 14-0, but it certainly didn’t close the score Edelman, Brady and the Patriots seem eager to settle with all the naysayers, negative nabobs and Max Kellermans of the world.
“Nice (expletive) ball!” Edelman yelled at Brady. “Nice (expletive) ball!”
“Thanks, baby,” Brady answered. “Thanks, baby.”
Tucked behind his beard and looking much more like a Civil War general than a baby, Edelman really let loose with the hype.
“You’re too (expletive) old!” Edelman yelled at Brady. “You’re too old!”
On a Friday when a last-minute scheduling change made Brady unavailable and an interesting Edelman interview ended almost every question with “I’m thinking about the Rams,” we’ll start with the Edelman “too old” hype. That and Brady’s previous statement — “Everyone thinks we suck!” — after the playoff victory over the Chargers have come to encapsulate that narrative heading into Super Bowl LIII.
“I have seen some footage,” Edelman said of him yelling at Brady. “It was pretty funny.
“Tom’s the best. He goes out and consistently proves it. It’s pretty cool to think about, not necessarily focus on, catching from the BOAT, the GOAT — the best of all time. It’s an ongoing (inside) joke … I forget my train of thought.”
There is no Deflategate on this trip to the Super Bowl. After Bill Belichick and Brady told each other how they loved each other in a postgame hug after the remarkable overtime triumph over the Chiefs, there isn’t a narrative about how much the two don’t like each other.
Instead there is the question: How big is the chip on the Patriots’ shoulder over media and fans proclaiming the dynasty dead? After a protracted 22-second question about “reverse-engineering” that narrative and having fun, Edelman gave a small smile.
“That’s a long, tough question,” Edelman said. “I don’t know how to read into that. I like black out during the game. What you say is what you say. Whatever. It just comes to mind.”
Edelman has received attention about the mighty praise from Jerry Rice this week. Edelman, who played quarterback at Kent State, also has received attention from playing against a Miami (Ohio) wide receiver named Sean McVay. Twelve years later, McVay is the wunderkind coach of the Super Bowl opponent Rams.
It’s all part of the Super Bowl buildup. Yet mostly, folks love to talk about the relationship between Brady and Edelman. He catches Brady’s passes in places on the football field where no rational human beings dare go. He catches them in the postseason more than anybody in the history of the game except for Rice. He gets pounded. He returns punts. He makes eye-popping catches that change the history of the game, like the one against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. And yes, he bromance-worships Brady.
“He’s a great friend,” Edelman said. “It has helped our relationship on the field. We’ve played a long time together. You learn guys in and out. We see each other more than we see our families.”
Cornerback Jason McCourty says it’s a hoot to play against the two in practice.
“You see two guys who are the ultimate competitors, how hard they compete in practice,” McCourty said. “You see the bromance sometimes. You see the fiery looks they give each other sometimes if someone messes up. Just that look of ‘Get it together!’ It’s almost like brothers, they’ve played together for so long.”
Edelman bounced from intense to distracted over 13 minutes on this day. It was like watching him be fearless on the field and then a little crazy on the sidelines.
Asked what he remembers about Miami’s 20-13 victory over Kent State on Oct. 7, 2007, when McVay caught three passes and Edelman completed 14 of 22 for 244 yards and ran for 61 more, Edelman said, “Honestly, I don’t remember. But it was pretty cool to see some footage.”
Brady had already won three of his five Super Bowls by that day.
“It’s very remarkable, (McVay) is my age and he’s leading an organization to a Super Bowl,” Edelman said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s a testament to how much he knows the game, how hard he works. I love seeing it. He’s a MAC guy.”
Asked a second question about his and McVay’s unlikely journey, Edelman started in, stopped and said, “What’s the question?” Yet then he’s asked about how Rice said he loves Edelman’s “expletive-you attitude” and suddenly he is genuinely touched: “I’ve got to live up to it now, right? It’s an honor. I’m from the Bay Area, growing up loving the Niners.” Edelman, it should be noted, also grew up yelling “I’m Brady!” in his driveway when he was in the eighth grade.
So here he was on this day, a guy who entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick essentially without a position and now, with 105 postseason catches, second only to Rice. His journey has been a long one, made much longer the past two seasons.
“It means the world to get to the Super Bowl,” Edelman said. “It has been a crazy two years for me. Have a kid. Tear your ACL. Miss four games. It’s been a mentally, physically, emotionally exhausting year. To put in all that effort to overcoming that for this game, it’s been a heck of a year to see how this has evolved.
“It was tough (not playing in the Super Bowl last year). You have mixed emotions. Your teammates are there. You see young guys making big plays to get to the Super Bowl. You’re excited for them. But you also have a hurt feeling, because you’re not playing. But that was last year. This year, I’m thinking about the Rams.”
He is asked about Brady being the young gun facing Kurt Warner in 2002 in the Super Bowl, going against the Greatest Show on Turf, and now Brady is the 41-year-old and Jared Goff is the young gun.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever called us the Great Show on Turf before,” Edelman said. “We don’t play on turf, do we? AstroTurf, I mean. Sorry, I’m thinking about the Rams.”
The final question is about his 2-year-old daughter, Lily, and whether she makes the journey all the more special. Edelman suddenly regains his laser focus.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “When you become a pop, you have different priorities. You’re living for someone else. It’s pretty cool to experience success and having your little human just running around and saying “Dada.” She’s like a little good-luck charm. She doesn’t know anything is going on around her.”
Some would argue that’s the same amount of knowledge as those who have proclaimed an end to the Patriots’ dominance.