It is impossible to reflect on Julian Edelman's career without thinking about Tom Brady. After the New England Patriots wide receiver announced his retirement Monday, the legendary quarterback wrote quite the message for his former teammate.
Brady posted the message on his Instagram page and told Edelman, in part, "You had an amazing football journey, an amazing life journey in New England, and I have no doubt you will succeed in anything you choose to do next!"
The parallels between Brady and Edelman are clear.
The quarterback was an overlooked sixth-round pick who went on to become arguably the best player in NFL history. The wide receiver, who was a quarterback in college at Kent State, was an overlooked seventh-round pick who became one of the most important pieces in New England's modern-day dynasty.
Edelman won three Super Bowls during his career and retires second on the Patriots' all-time list with 620 catches, fourth with 6,822 receiving yards and ninth with 36 touchdown catches.
He was also the Super Bowl LIII MVP with 10 catches for 141 yards in the Patriots' 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams to finish the 2018 season.
Brady is not the only notable figure from the New England dynasty to praise Edelman following his retirement decision.
Myles Simmons of Pro Football Talk shared comments from head coach Bill Belichick:
"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career—wins, championships, production—Julian has it all. 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."
The 2020 campaign was the only one of Edelman's career when Brady wasn't on the Patriots, and the team missed the playoffs while he played just six games and struggled with injuries.
Brady won a Super Bowl on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a big part of his legacy was also carved out while throwing the ball to Edelman and winning Lombardi Trophies in New England.