Here's why NFL legend views Julian Edelman among 'toughest' players in NFL history

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Nick Goss
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Here's why NFL legend views Edelman among 'toughest' players in NFL history originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Julian Edelman didn't take the conventional path to becoming one of the most effective wide receivers of his era.

He was a quarterback in college at Kent State and didn't get drafted until the seventh round when the New England Patriots took a chance on him. Without a ton of opportunities to thrive in the passing attack early in his career, Edelman had to make his mark on special teams. 

Perhaps the biggest reason why Edelman rose from unknown draft pick to one of the most clutch wideouts in NFL history is his toughness. Toughness takes many different forms, whether it's the physical nature of in-game action, recovering from injury or persevering through tough times on and off the field.

Patriots Talk Podcast: The intellectual dishonesty of the anti-Edelman argument | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Patriots legend and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest recently reflected on Edelman's remarkable career in New England and his decision to retire, and he specifically praised the wide receiver's toughness.

"He’s one of the toughest players to ever play in the league,” McGinest said. “He was a receiver, but he didn’t act like a receiver. He was one of those guys who invited the pain. He loved the grind. He was a workaholic. He played through pain for years. I mean, he had to really be set back for him to want to retire and not go forth, and he endured a lot.

"When you talk about what he meant to the Patriots and what he meant to Tom Brady, he was a selfless player. He would do anything they asked him to do. He would block, he would run whatever routes. He would talk trash back to Brady. He didn’t back down from anybody, no matter what the route. He ran across any safety."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Edelman's hard-nosed style certainly took a toll on his body, and injuries slowed him down considerably in each of the last two seasons.

He played all 16 games in 2019 despite battling multiple injuries. Last season saw him miss the final 10 games after undergoing a knee procedure in October.

Edelman was clearly talented -- you can't accomplish all he did without excellent quickness, reliable hands, a high football IQ and other skills. But without his legendary toughness, Edelman's career probably doesn't turn out the way that it did. It's a good example for young players that hard work must accompany elite talent if you want to reach the pinnacle of the sport.