Prisoner of the moment is a very real thing. Sunday the Patriots managed to win a Super Bowl putting up 13 points. Julian Edelman didn’t score the lone touchdown, or even have the big play that set it up (Rob Gronkowski did). But he led the team with 10 catches for 141 yards to win MVP. And now the chatter is that he should be a Hall of Famer.
Let’s pump the breaks, kids.
Edelman has been Tom Brady’s most recent reliable slot machine and thus has been able to get three rings in five years with the Patriots. Does that mean he should go into the Hall of Fame? No, it does not.
Prior to Edelman, Brady had Wes Welker who, it might surprise you, hasn’t won a ring as the six seasons he was with the Patriots, they made the Super Bowl twice and lost both of them. So, does that mean Edelman is a better receiver than Welker? No, it does not.
Welker was a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro, setting the standard for slot receivers which Edelman has tried to reach since he took over that job in New England in 2013. In six seasons in New England, Welker averaged 112 catches for 1243 yards and six touchdowns. Edelman has never reached even Welker’s average in catches or receiving and has never been named to the Pro Bowl.
All this talk of comparing Edelman to the guy he replaced is great, but we’re talking about Hall of Fame credentials and Welker isn’t eligible yet. There are others who have waited to get noticed by the Hall of Fame who were also far superior to the Edelman but can’t get a sniff.
Most notably one Clifford Branch.
You can’t really compare stats for stats for a player in a completely different era. So, let’s compare each player to players in their own era. Cliff Branch had the 5th most receiving yards from 1972-85 (8685) and the 10th most all-time in 1985 in both catches (501) and receiving. Seven of the top nine are all Hall of Famers. Just ahead of Branch at 8th and 9th are Fred Biletnikoff (8974) and James Lofton (8816).
Just since 2000, Edelman’s 499 career catches is 58th in the league and his 5390 yards is 78th. Yeah, being a steady contributor on three Super Bowl teams isn’t going to overrule those rankings.
Branch was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro. He also has three Super Bowl rings and at the time of his retirement he was the NFL’s all-time leader in postseason receiving yards. And yet 28 years since he was first eligible for the Hall of Fame, he is no closer to the Hall than he was back then.
This year Tom Flores was the main topic of conversation with regard to deserving Raiders who have been waiting a long time to get the call to the Hall. But Branch has been waiting longer and is also deserving.
Julian Edelman? Puhlease.