Yet the former Kent State quarterback who became a go-to wide receiver of quarterback Tom Brady with the New England Patriots and a Super Bowl MVP knew a specific theme would likely emerge from the retelling of his improbable journey.
“I was just a competitive guy that overachieved, just a blue-collar worker when it came to playing professional football, a guy that was the first one in, last one to leave,” Edelman said by phone.
“If that can inspire people in some form or fashion, it's cool, so I think that's what they'll probably take away from it. I haven't seen it. I have no clue what it's gonna turn out to be. But I'm pretty sure it'll probably be like, 'Oh, this guy was a competitive psycho.'”
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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick among those interviewed about wide receiver Julian Edelman for NFL Network's 'A Football Life'
Brady, coach Bill Belichick and many other members of the Patriots dynasty detail the ethos of Edelman, 36, along with his parents, Frank and Angie, and siblings, Jason and Nicki, in the episode produced by NFL Films.
In its 11th season, “A Football Life” examines the stories of influential football icons, and Edelman's episode will premiere at 9 p.m. Friday on NFL Network.
“When [NFL Films] called me, I was a little stunned because if you look at who's had 'A Football Life,' it's a great group of guys,” Edelman said. “So it's honestly been an honor to even be considered to have this kind of show, and it's a cool experience. My family likes this stuff. I really don't care, but the family, my parents, they like this kind of stuff.”
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What did NFL Films reveal about former Kent State quarterback and Patriots slot receiver Julian Edelman?
Edelman pointed out he is familiar with the process of being involved with documentaries. ESPN's “E:60” profiled him in 2015. He also shared his underdog story in the 2019 Showtime film “100%: Julian Edelman.”
This time, Edelman explained, NFL Films had all of the creative control.
“We just kind of let them do their thing,” he said. “It's their world. We're just living in it.”
The Edelman edition of “A Football Life” explores how his father, Frank, molded him with a distinct old-school brand of tough love. It examines the unconventional path he traveled to defy doubters and become a three-time Super Bowl champion under Belichick. It touches on the injuries and off-field trouble he encountered, a near breakup with the Patriots and his relationship with Judaism.
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Julian Edelman and Tom Brady's backgrounds helped them develop great chemistry en route to Super Bowls with the New England Patriots
“We were represented by the same agent, Don Yee, so there was some familiarity with that,” said Edelman, who retired as an NFL player after the 2020 season. “And then when I met him, I was a Bay Area kid, he was a Bay Area kid, we grew up 10 miles from each other, so talking about what sandwich shop he used to go to, what burrito he used to eat, that was comfortable. We clicked about that because I knew about his area, and he knew about my area.
“Then what ultimately was the No. 1 factor was that we both loved to compete, and we both loved to work. I learned a lot of that from him. I was a high-effort guy, and I gave a lot of effort in practice, but I learned how to practice with Tom. I think it was because of my effort, that's why he liked it, and I was available always. I made myself available no matter what for him, so that's what I think probably connected us.”
There is no doubt Edelman capitalized.
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Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @ByNateUlrich.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Julian Edelman honored to be featured on 'A Football Life'