Julian Edelman wasn’t named Super Bowl XLIX MVP. But he certainly should have been in the conversation.
That honor went to Tom Brady, after the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Arizona last Sunday.
To be completely honest — and this isn’t taking anything away from what either Brady or Edelman did in that game — I would have given the MVP to Malcolm Butler.The kid literally ripped the Lombardi Trophy out of the hands of Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll. He jumped a route and intercepted a ball that should have never been thrown in the first place.
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But Butler didn’t just make a great play. He made the only play the Patriots needed him to make. If Butler bats that ball down, sure, in any other situation, in any other game, that’s a “great” play. But an incomplete pass on second down from the 1-yard line wasn’t going to win the Patriots the Super Bowl. In fact, anything other than an interception by Butler would have probably still led to a Seahawks win.
There would’ve been no parade in Boston on Wednesday without Butler’s interception. That’s a fact.
And while his story is a great one — undrafted rookie free agent who played the role of improbable hero — it’s not the best one.
That honor goes to Edelman, who nearly went undrafted in 2009, when he was taken in the seventh-and-final round, 232nd overall (out of 256 total picks). He was a quarterback in college, a three-year starter at Kent State. His senior year, he was the team’s leading passer and leading rusher. He could do it all.
Fast forward to 2015, here’s Edelman, one of the Patriots’ most reliable players. He had 1,056 receiving yards in 2013, and 972 receiving yards in 2014. And don’t forget about his talents in the return game.
Last Sunday, he had nine receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, which ended up being the game-winning score in the Super Bowl.
Again, this is a college quarterback who’s making this type of impact as a receiver in the Super Bowl. As former NHL defenseman Ryan Whitney said on Thursday’s podcast, “That’s like playing defense at Curry College, and then going to the NHL as a forward on the Bruins’ power play.”
Edelman deserves credit for making the most of his opportunity. And that opportunity also came on the defensive end. In 2011, Edelman was used as a defensive back late in the season because of injuries. The Patriots went on to the Super Bowl that year, and in the AFC Championship — a 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens — Edelman was used as both a wide receiver and defensive back, even covering Anquan Boldin at times.
Let that sink in for a moment. Then think about what he did against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
Sure, Brady was the one throwing him the football. And the Patriots don’t hoist the Lombardi Trophy without Malcolm Butler’s interception.
For those reasons, Edelman wasn’t the Super Bowl MVP. But the road he took to even be in that conversation, is a story for the ages.
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