Technically speaking, Tom Brady didn’t have a brother. He was the youngest of four, with the rest being athletic sisters.
But along came a guy in 2009, almost out of nowhere, 232nd overall, a quarterback out of Kent State, a bit of a wise-guy, named Julian Edelman.
He lingered for nearly four years as an understudy to Brady’s go-to guy, Wes Welker, adding value as a great punt returner (three for touchdowns over that span).
Welker, probably the most successful slot receiver in history over his six seasons (averaging 112 rec., 1,243 yards, 6 TDs), and head coach Bill Belichick had had enough of each other, apparently.
Everything changed. While Edelman’s numbers weren’t exactly Welker-esque as his replacement, he was more effective.
Edelman was better with the media. And if there were disputes with Belichick over contract -- Welker and Belichick had a few -- it was never exhibited publicly.
But on the field, with Welker gone, Brady and Edelman might as well have been brothers. They clicked.
Edelman’s feistiness was apparent. He seemed to celebrate harder after getting crushed by a defender or two.
The Patriots Dynasty, Part 1, was more a team game, including defense, running the football during a crunch time and, of course, clutch play from Brady.
But that sort of disappeared after the 2004 Super Bowl win. Brady’s stats improved and the Patriots were still dominant.
But something always happens when you depend so much on one guy.
With Edelman taking charge as a slot receiver, Brady got back to his roots – moving the chains.
Edelman only scored 36 touchdowns as a receiver over his career, miniscule compared to the greats (Welker had 37 in six seasons here).
Edelman was more of a setup guy. Whether it was Rob Gronkowski, LeGarrette Blount or James White finishing, the guy who got them close was Edelman.
But you know what? It didn’t matter. Stats didn’t matter. And during this second dynasty tour, the same could be said for Brady.
The big plays between Brady and Edelman were endless.
The Super Bowl wins alone, be it when Edelman embarrassed the fill-in defensive back with an in-and-out move, which would’ve been memorialized if not for Malcolm Butler’s interception against the Seahawks; the miraculous catch against the Falcons, down 28-20, with 2:23 left in the game, in between feet, legs and hands; and his MVP performance against the Rams with 10 receptions and 141 yards.
For me, the 4th quarter and OT receptions in the game preceding his MVP Super Bowl, against the Chiefs, in Kansas City, best exemplified Edelman’s career here.
With the Patriots trailing 28-24 at the 2-minute warning, Brady hit Edelman on a 20-yarder over the middle to start the touchdown drive.
In overtime, on two 3rd-and-10s, Brady hit Edelman for 20 yards and 15 yards, helping set up Rex Burkhead’s TD run to send the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
They just seemed to know what the other was doing and/or thinking. Almost a sixth sense.
Off the field, it was the same thing the last few years they were teammates. They showed up often at sporting events, side by side, rooting some Boston team on with Edelman throwing some dig at his big brother for the cameras to see.
Edelman had a wise-guy way about him before he became Brady’s go-to guy. That changed and who’s to say Brady, always saying and doing the right thing, wasn’t the reason why.
Ironically, Edelman and Brady grew up only 10 miles apart from each other. In fact, Edelman started his college football career in Brady’s hometown, at the College of San Mateo, a community college.
In fact, before the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl, Brady was asked about his special relationship with Edelman.
"We have a great relationship, Jules [Julian Edelman] and I, and I trust him so much," said Brady on Jan. 26, 2019. "We’ve put in so many hours together in the meeting room, in the film room ... He’s always been kind of like my little brother, in a good way. I don’t have a little brother but he’s kind of like a little brother and he knows how much I love him."
This "brotherly" relationship was probably best documented by NFL Films back in a package they put together in 2015 asking “Do Tom Brady & Julian Edelman Have the Best ‘Bromance’? “
The key highlight was Edelman returning a punt 84 yards in a November of 2014 win, 43-21, over the Denver Broncos. It showed Edelman celebrating with several players in the end zone, including Brady.
About 30 seconds later, with Edelman and Brady sitting together on the bench, it hit Edleman that his quarterback actually ran to the end zone to congratulate him.
“Were you in the end zone after the punt return?” asked Edelman.
“Ya” said Brady, before fist-bumping Edelman. “Was going to see my guy.”
“My brother” would have worked, too.
Two guys nobody wanted. Two guys, really brothers, connected forever.