Patriots pay tribute to tough guy Julian Edelman in ceremony


“Julian Edelman was one of the greatest.”

Julian Edelman played for the Patriots from 2009 to 2020.

FOXBOROUGH – At halftime of Sunday’s Patriots-Saints game, retired wide receiver Julian Edelman came out of the tunnel, sprinted the length of the pitch and, reaching the end zone, put his hand to his ear, jumped up and pumped his fist.

The streak is one that Patriots fans are familiar with, as Edelman would follow that exact routine before almost every game kicks off at Gillette Stadium.

But nearly a year has passed since Edelman last stepped onto the pitch in uniform. The three-time Super Bowl champion played his last NFL game in October 2020, underwent left knee surgery and announced his retirement six months later.

So when the Patriots decided to honor Edelman’s 12-year career on Sunday, he couldn’t help but make his usual entry for the good old days.

Edelman was then greeted by his four-year-old daughter Lily and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who had prepared some remarks for the occasion.

“Playing professional football is tough, but the big guys always make it look easy,” Kraft said. “For over a decade Julian Edelman was one of the greats. He had a knack for making improbable captures possible, creating space when there was none, and constantly shifting chains.

“He was quick to open up, fearless in the middle and elusive after capture. One of the things that made him a fan favorite, here in New England, he was rock hard.

Edelman, who wore a gray hoodie with cropped sleeves, then took the microphone to address the crowd at full capacity.

“I want to take some time to thank the Kraft family, coach [Bill] Belichick and all my teammates, ”said Edelman. “I miss them to death. And you fans took me, me and my family, and you brought us to your home and you welcomed us. We’ve lived you guys, we’ve breathed you guys, and we’ll still die you guys.

Before kick-off, Edelman greeted Belichick as well as some of his former teammates. Belichick did not make the half-time ceremony because he was in the dressing room, but he greeted Edelman earlier in the week.

“He’s had a great career,” Belichick said on Friday. “He had huge production in all areas, receiving and running after catches, punt returns and was a good tackle. A really tough and competitive kid, right on top of the guys I’ve coached.

“It will be great to see Julian, assuming he doesn’t like roasting me or posing as a big impersonation, but it will be great to see him again and recognize him for the great career he has.” had here and how much he meant to this team, this organization, and how much he stood up for us in the big games, you know, year after year, week after week.

Edelman, 35, is now enjoying his role as an analyst on “Inside the NFL”. He is also working on the development of two shows, a docu-series and a scripted comedy, with his production company, Coast Productions.

Don’t expect him to follow in the footsteps of former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired in March 2019 only to return to action a year later and team up with good friend Tom Brady. in Tampa.

“Retiring as a Patriot is like a dream,” said Edelman. “I’ve always liked guys who play on a team. For a football player to have a whole career on a team with a franchise, I feel like that’s a pretty cool thing.

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