After Julian Edelman made the play of the game in Super Bowl LI, Patriots coach Bill Belichick heaped praise on him as one of the finest players he’s been around.
Belichick said he couldn’t tell in real time whether Edelman had made the catch of a tipped ball that will go down in Super Bowl history, but he did know that Edelman always fights for every play when he’s on the field.
“I thought it was a close play,” Belichick said. “I wasn’t sure if he had it or not. Then when we saw the replay he was clearly under it. Julian has great concentration. He is a tremendous competitor. As good of a competitor as anyone that I have coached. This guy has played slot defensive back for us, returns kicks, covers kicks, blocks, catches tough passes, runs the ball for us on sweeps and stuff like that. He does whatever it takes. He made a tremendous play. It is not the first one he has made, but that was obviously a big one.”
When Belichick took a seventh-round flyer on Edelman in the 2009 NFL draft, he couldn’t have known that he was drafting one of the best competitors he’d ever coach. But that’s what Edelman has become, and the Super Bowl catch was his crowning achievement.