They didn’t, in the poignant phrasing of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, “know what the [bleep]” they were going to do with Julian Edelman. But they knew on the day of the 2009 NFL draft they were going to do something.
“We drafted you as a football player,” apparently is what Belichick, in his arrogance and brilliance, told Edelman. “We’re going to have you on the field somewhere.”
Maybe, in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, everywhere.
“You could be the MVP on offense and defense,” someone pointed out to Edelman on media day. Edelman won’t be, but the suggestion plays on Edelman’s versatility and New England’s often-questioned secondary.
“I’m not thinking of anything like that,” was Edelman’s response. “I’m thinking of what we have to do against the Giants.”
Julian Francis Edelman, who was a star in the Redwood City Pop Warner program, at Woodside High School and then, while trying to prove he was good enough if not tall enough to quarterback a top-line NCAA program, at College of San Mateo, always has thought of what he had to do.
And at his size — he’s 5-foot-11, and finally that truth is listed on the Patriots’ website — what others didn’t think he could do.
He wasn’t recruited out of high school, although in his prep career, 2002-04, he threw for 2,237 yards and ran for 964 yards. So he enrolled at CSM, which he reminds is where Bill Walsh, Dick Vermeil, John Madden and Bill Ring also went.
Edelman received a scholarship from Kent State, accepting, even though he concedes, “I didn’t have a clue where it was.” It was, and is, some 40 miles south of Cleveland.
Edelman did play QB at Kent State. The Patriots, who took him in the seventh round, used him as a punt returner and receiver. And finally, in this third season in the NFL, because other defenders were injured, on certain situations in the secondary.
“I was cool with it,” he told the New York Times. “They just say, ‘You’re in defensive meetings today.’ That’s all they say. … But I enjoy playing football.”
As his teammate, Tom Brady, who also grew up on the Peninsula, Edelman went to 49ers games as a kid. Also Giants, A’s, Raiders and Warriors games, and at Stanford Stadium, the East-West Shrine game. Not a bad background for a boy destined to be pro athlete.
In the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 22 against the Baltimore Ravens, Edelman was on the field on 27 of 67 offensive plays, and 27 of 73 defensive plays. Not much rest. Or from Giants receiver Mario Manningham, not much respect.
“I hope he’s out there,” Manningham said about Edelman. “It’s a different stage. This ain’t regular season. That ain’t your real position, so we’re going to try and expose you.”
Edelman was not intimidated, as if anybody who made it the hard way — as he did — ever would be intimidated.
“I’m not really worried what Mario Manningham is saying,” Edelman said. “We will see if that opportunity comes ahead of us in the game.”
Belichick and the Patriots know exactly what to do with Julian Edelman. Play him. Anywhere, everywhere.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.