Bill Belichick Issues Rare Statement On Julian Edelman's Retirement
By Jason Hall
April 14, 2021
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman following his retirement on Monday (April 12.)
The normally stoic Belichick gave a rare statement of gushing praise for the former Super Bowl MVP, calling Edelman "the ultimate competitor and a "privilege" to coach via NESN.
“By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career — wins, championships, production — Julian has it all,” Belichick said. “Few players can match Julian’s achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out.
“Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances. For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player. He could, and did, do everything — catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle — all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance.
“Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor, and it was a privilege to coach him.”
Edelman played for Belichick during all of his 12 NFL seasons. The duo won three Super Bowls together, including the Patriots' most recent championship, which saw Edelman earn MVP honors in Super Bowl LIII.
Edelman shared a video of himself on the field of Gillette Stadium announcing his decision on Monday (April 12) afternoon following reports that the Patriots released him from his contract after a failed physical.
"It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family," Edelman said. "And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. ... It's been the best 12 years of my life."
Edelman has spent his entire 12-year NFL career with the Patriots and ranks second in franchise history for career receptions (620), fourth in receiving yards (6,822) and ninth in receiving touchdowns (36.)
“He had a great career. He had an unbelievable career,” Edelman said. “But, I don’t know, we’re not there yet."
Edelman endured a frustrating 11th NFL season in 2020, which was limited to just six games due to a knee injury that led to "precautionary" surgery in October. The Patriots struggled in his absence, having already lost veteran quarterback Tom Brady to free agency, as well as several other key contributors, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“This whole year was so jacked up. It was so long, I just need to decompress for a little bit,” Edelman said via Pardon My Take. “I’m out in L.A. right now, taking my kid to school and picking her up, doing the kind of things you don’t get to do during the season, and I’m enjoying that right now.”
Edelman also provided an update on his recovery, saying he's "getting there" and has had plenty of time to reflect with an early offseason.
“It was a rough year when it came to just my physicality and how I felt,” Edelman said. “It’s tough, but this is the time where you sit and you self-reflect. You self-evaluate and you self-scout yourself through all last year. You’re really go in and try to develop a formula and try to develop a game plan for how you’re going to attack the offseason. That’s the process I’m in right now.”
The 34-year-old wide receiver was set to enter the final year of his contract with the Patriots next season, which carried a cap hit of more than $6.6 million.
Belichick had previously released statements after Tom Brady's decision to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason and Rob Gronkowski's retirement, which was lasted one season before the tight end joined Brady in Tampa Bay last year.
Photo: Getty Images