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Former New England wide receiver Julian Edelman retired earlier this week after a 12-year NFL career.
A former college quarterback, Edelman carved out an outstanding career with the Patriots, serving as Tom Brady’s security blanket from 2013-19. Edelman was terrific, especially in the playoffs, but he is absolutely not a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If we are going to discuss which wide receivers should be in the Hall of Fame, the line should begin with former Washington star Gary Clark.
Clark entered the NFL in 1985 after spending two years in the USFL with the Jacksonville Bulls. Clark would catch 72 passes for 926 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. Had he not entered the NFL at the same time as Jerry Rice, he would’ve likely received more love.
Not to mention, Clark was teammates with Hall-of-Famer Art Monk.
When you go back to those great Washington teams in the 1980s into the early 90s, it was Clark who struck fear into the opposition. Monk was reliable and steady, while Clark was fearless and explosive. Clark would go across the middle in traffic at just 5-foot-9, 175 pounds during a time when players like Ronnie Lott patrolled the secondary.
You need a big play? Clark was one of the NFL’s top deep receivers during his time, too.
Edelman had a great run in the playoffs. Clark wasn’t too shabby either. In 14 career playoff games, Clark finished with 58 receptions for 826 yards and two touchdowns.
How many All-Pro teams did Edelman make? Clark was a three-time All-Pro. How many Pro Bowls did Edelman appear in? None. Clark was a four-time Pro Bowler.
Edelman was a part of three Super Bowl championship teams, while Clark finished with two Super Bowl rings.
Clark would play eight years in Washington. He would end up playing 11 years in the NFL, playing two years with the Cardinals and his final season in Miami. He rarely ever missed games, despite always playing hurt.
One of the biggest accomplishments of Clark’s career was the respect he had from his peers. John Madden named Clark to his All-Madden Team numerous times during his career. Madden admired Clark for his toughness, reliability, clutch ability and leadership.
Edelman finished his career with 620 receptions for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns. He caught 118 passes for 1,442 yards and five touchdowns in the playoffs. That’s a tremendous career, but not Hall-of-Fame worthy.
Clark completed his career with 699 receptions for 10,856 yards and 65 touchdowns. He went over the 1,000-yard mark five times in his career. And Clark played in an era of smashmouth football.
Look, this isn’t to disparage Edelman or his fantastic career. There are just more qualified candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Players such as Cliff Branch, Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne and Clark are just some of the names who belong in Canton before Edelman. And there are others.
So, if there are folks making a case for Edelman, then they should start with a deep dive into Clark’s career.