Julian Edelman's retirement prompted an outpouring of gratitude for and reflection on the many fond memories he helped produce with the Patriots.
The last detail in the sentence above -- with the Patriots -- is the most important for Edelman's immediate future. He told NFL Network's Michael Irvin recently that despite the rumblings of a move south to Tampa coming almost immediately after Edelman announced his retirement, that isn't happening.
"I'm a one-team guy," Edelman told Irvin on the Michael Irvin Podcast.
For 20 years, Tom Brady was a one-team guy. Rob Gronkowski was a one-team guy for nine seasons. Then, both headed to Tampa, where Brady moved as a free agent and Gronkowski landed after coming out of retirement to request a trade to the Buccaneers to join his old pal.
Edelman's statement indicates that isn't in the cards for him, mainly because of the reason he retired: His ailing knee just couldn't take the grueling, unforgiving nature of football any more.
"My knees breaking down, I'm not gonna sit here, you know, I got everything I wanted," Edelman explained. "I got three rings, played in a magical dynasty, with an unbelievable franchise coach, best quarterback of all- time, like, yo, I'm not a greedy guy. I played to win, I played to compete, I don't need anything else to prove. I'm good with what I did, I left it all out on the field."
If Edelman's career is finished as he indicated, then where does he stand in the game's history? Edelman was undoubtedly a key part in New England's second half of its two-decade run of dominance, with his signature moment coming via an unbelievable grab made amid the Patriots' furious comeback effort in Super Bowl LI. He finished with 620 receptions, 6,822 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns in 11 seasons, and won three Super Bowls.
But those who allow Edelman's clutch moments and significance in the NFL landscape as a key Patriot shouldn't allow these factors to influence their consideration of him as an all-time great. He'll land in New England's franchise hall of fame one day, no doubt. But he never made a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team. He was never considered to be one of the top three to five players at his position. Simply, he's not a Pro Football Hall of Famer, no matter what Twitter says.
It sounds as if Edelman is aware of this reality and is content with the career -- which began as a seventh-round pick out of Kent State and required him to convert from quarterback to receiver -- he compiled.
"I'm not here to make a case, man," Edelman said. "I didn't play the game to be in the hall. ... It's an honor to even be mentioned. You know and if something happens, something happens, you know I'm not gonna be worrying about that, I'ma be worrying about my new job here on Inside the NFL."
That's the right approach, and the typical one from a person who carved out an NFL career with little more than determination, desire and a tireless work ethic. And that is more than enough for a player who will never be forgotten in New England.