Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Julian Edelman

(1986 - )

Julian Edelman was born on May 22, 1986 in Redwood City, California. He is a wide receiver and punt returner for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. Julian Edelman played one year of junior college football at the College of San Mateo before transferring to Kent State University. During his college career, he completed 385 of 706 passes (54.5 percent) for 4,997 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions. A dual-threat quarterback, he also rushed for 2,483 yards on 502 attempts (4.9 yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns. Thirteen years after he entered Kent State, he completed his degree in 2019.

The Patriots drafted Edelman in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft. 

Edelman was known for his versatility, having played both wide receiver and cornerback in 2011, and for his punt returns. He holds the Patriots franchise record for longest punt return and the most punts returned for touchdowns; and, as of the start of the 2013 NFL season, the highest career punt return average among active players.

Edelman was born in Redwood City, California, the son of Angela (née Gole) and Frank Edelman, who owns a small business. His great-grandfather was apparently Jewish. According to some biographies, his father is Jewish but does not identify as a Jew. His mother is not Jewish. During an NFL Network interview in December 2013, Edelman stated that he identifies as Jewish and that he celebrates Hanukkah. He wore an Israeli-American flag pin on his hat during the November 2014 Denver Broncos game at Gillette Stadium. After the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018 that killed 11, he wore special cleats with Hebrew on them to honor the victims and tweeted: “My heart is broken for the families in Pittsburgh. It’s hard to even imagine such senselessness. As a Jew, an American and a human, I’m devasted. We are with you, Pittsburgh. #treeoflifesynagogue.”

Edelman spent his first four seasons in the league primarily backing up slot receiver Wes Welker, to whom he was often compared as the two have a similar physique and playing style. During those seasons, he primarily played as a kick returner, only seeing the field on offense when the highly productive Welker was injured. Welker left the team after the 2012 season, and Edelman seamlessly moved into his slot receiver role, becoming one of the main targets for Tom Brady.

In the 2014-2015 postseason, Edelman recorded a touchdown pass on his first-ever NFL pass attempt in the Patriots' Divisional Round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. After receiving a lateral pass from Brady, Edelman threw a forward pass to Danny Amendola, who scored a 51–yard touchdown to tie the game at 28–28. The pass was the longest touchdown pass thrown by a non-quarterback player in NFL playoff history.

He was sidelined with an ACL injury for the entire 2017 season and served a four game suspension in 2018 for the use of performance-enhancing substances.

Edelman, nicknamed by his teammates “squirrel,” is one of the most productive receivers in post-season history, ranking second overall (behind Jerry Rice) in both post-season receiving yards and post-season receptions. He has played in four Super Bowl games (Super Bowl XLVI, Super Bowl XLIX, Super Bowl LI, and Super Bowl LIII). Against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, Edelman led all receivers in yardage with 109 yards on 9 receptions. His touchdown reception with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter was the go-ahead score of the game, putting the Patriots up 28–24 and helping lead them to become the Superbowl champions. In the last three (all Patriots wins), he led all wide receivers in receiving yards, culminating in an MVP-earning performance in Super Bowl LIII when he had 10 catches for 141 yards, more than half of his team’s total receiving yardage. He holds two Super Bowl records: career punt returns (8) and first-half receptions in a single game (7).

Edelman, who only played six games in 2020 due to a knee injury, announced his retirement on April 12, 2021, at the age of 34. He wore a silver chain with a Magen David pendant around his neck during the video announcement he made on Twitter.

He played his entire 12-year career with the Patriots.

In 2016, Edelman published a children's book, Flying High, about a squirrel named Jules who learns to overcome his physical limitations through hard work and the assistance of a goat named Tom. A sequel, Flying High 2, was released in 2017. His memoir, Relentless, was also published in 2017.

Edelman has his own clothing brand, JE11. He has made cameo appearances on television and appeared in an episode of the NFL Network documentary series A Football Life.

In 2019, Edelman co-founded a production company, Coast Productions, which produced the 2019 Showtime documentary 100% about Edelman's recovery from a 2017 ACL tear and the 2018 NFL season. In 2021, after his retirement, ViacomCBS signed a multi-year development deal with Coast Productions; in the deal, Edelman joined Inside the NFL as an analyst. He was nominated for a Sports Emmy in 2022 for his first season on Inside the NFL.

In 2023, Edelman joined the cast of the NFL Kickoff show on Fox.

He has a daughter born with Swedish model Ella Rose.

Highlights and Career Stats

  • Super Bowl LIII MVP
  • Three-time Super Bowl champion (2014, 2016, 2018)
  • Two-time Super Bowl runner-up (2011, 2017)
  • Two-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week
  • 2016 Week 17 AFC Offensive Player of the Week
  • Second all-time in postseason in receiving yards (1,142 over 19 games)
  • Second all-time in postseason in receptions (118 over 19 games)
  • Career stats:
    • 620 receptions
    • 6,822 receiving yards
    • 36 touchdown receptions
    • 413 rushing yards on 58 attempts
    • 4 punt return touchdowns
    • 1 fumble return touchdown
    • Passing: 6 for 6, 128 yards, 1 TD

Sources: Wikipedia.
“Julian Edelman is the first Jewish Super Bowl MVP,” JTA, (February 3, 2019).
Gabe Friedman, “Is Patriots Wide Receiver Julian Edelman Jewish?” Forward, (February 2, 2015).
Nate Bloom, “Julian Edelman,” Jewish Standard, (March 21, 2019).
“Patriots’ Edelman Reaches Another Milestone: College Grad,” Reuters, (May 12, 2019).
@Edelman11, (April 12, 2021).
“Get to know Julian Edelman: Stats, records and more,” NBC Sports Boston, (January 22, 2022).
“Former Patriots receiver Julian Edelman joining ‘Fox NFL Kickoff’ studio show,” AP, (August 25, 2023).

Photo: Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.