The misguided takes began to flow not long after the MVP of Super Bowl LIII was named. Julian Edelman . . . Hall of Famer?
No. No. And no.
Look, Edelman has played a key role in three Super Bowl championships for the Patriots. But the key word is role. He’s a role player, a slot receiver who has a specific skill set that has a specific impact that hasn’t translated into the kind of production and career accomplishments that would transcend the limited part he plays in the Patriots’ success.
Yes, it’s an important role. But if he wasn’t doing it, someone else would be.
Edelman is the guy who benefits from a scheme that takes full advantage of the slot receiver, creating mismatches and openings and putting him in the right place at the right time when the right quarterback throws the right pass. Again, Edelman’s role has been critical to the team’s success. But it’s not the kind of thing that vaults him toward the game’s immortals, at least not based on his current career achievements.
Consider his statistics. In 10 NFL seasons, he has two 1,000-yard receiving performances. He has 499 regular-season catches and 5,390 regular-season receiving yards. That puts him in a tie for 148th in all-time receptions and at 248 in all-time receiving yards. With only 30 receiving touchdowns, he’s well out of the top 250.
Of course, Edelman has performed in the postseason, currently sitting second all-time in receptions and receiving yardage. And he has earned three Super Bowl rings. While those realities may have been enough to secure a spot in Canton for Lynn Swann, there are too many receivers who have done too much more during the week-in, week-out grind to elevate Edelman to a spot in Canton based on his playoff play.
The Super Bowl MVP award helps, but plenty of Super Bowl MVPs will never see the Hall of Fame without a ticket for admission. (If you don’t believe me, Google the list.) And that’s not to say Edelman can’t get there. If he somehow wins the Super Bowl MVP award again next year, it becomes a lot harder to argue against him.
For now, though, to even mention his name in connection with induction reflects the kind of short-sighted, moment-prisoner thinking that would make the Hall of Fame into the Hall of Hey Where Are We Gonna Put All These Busts?
Then there’s the PED wrinkle. While football fans seem to be far more tolerant of PED use than baseball fans, Edelman’s four-game suspension to start the 2018 season remains a permanent stain on his record, one that could turn a borderline case into a no.
For now, the case isn’t even borderline. It’s a no, with Edelman having the chance to do more things that could maybe nudge him toward the fringes of consideration. One way to do it would be to catch a lot more passes and gain a lot more yards from Week One through Week 17.