As the 2018 NFL season ends, we have something to occupy our time before the 2019 campaign: Debating whether New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, is a Hall of Famer.
Boomer Esiason is convinced. Others are making the case for Edelman's enshrinement.
Let's pump the brakes, OK?
The Edelman-for-Hall of Fame case is built, it seems, on his playoff performance. He is second behind Jerry Rice in career playoff receptions and receiving yards. That's the product of playing in a pass-happy league and his status as a longtime Patriot. It's true he's been a key contributor for the Patriots in the playoffs, especially in the 2016 and 2018 seasons.
However, the rush to anoint Edelman as a Hall of Famer glosses over his resume. At this stage of his career, the 32-year-old has a lot of work to do to reach Canton.
His two best seasons as a pro were 2013 and 2016. In 2013, he had a career-high 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. While he ranked fourth in receptions, his yardage total didn't crack the top 20. Among receivers with 100-plus catches that season, his 10.1 yards per reception average was, by far, the lowest.
Three years after his 100-catch, 1,000-yard season, he had 98 catches for 1,106 yards in 2016. In terms of yardage, it was his best season in the NFL. He once again ranked fourth in receptions, but his yardage total placed him 13th among receivers. His yards per reception average was 11.3 — tied for 80th in the league. One of the players who had an 11.3 yards per reception average that year? Ezekiel Elliott, a running back.
Edelman improved his yards per reception average this season to 11.5, good for 71st in the NFL.
That's not the only knock on Edelman. He isn't a scorer. He has 30 career receiving touchdowns. He set a career high in 2015 when he caught seven touchdown passes. He was tied for 26th in receiving touchdowns that season. If you don't believe there is a correlation between finding the end zone and the Hall of Fame, look at the wide receivers on this list who are Hall of Famers. Take notice, too, of the receivers on that list who could be Hall of Famers, but aren't in for whatever reason.
There is another factor that could disqualify Edelman: His use of performance-enhancing drugs. He tested positive for PEDs and served a four-game suspension at the beginning of the 2018 season. It's a different sport, but there are baseball players being held accountable for alleged PED usage. There is no proof. There aren't suspensions to (most of) their names. But they are being kept out of the Hall of Fame.
Why is there, apparently, a different standard for Edelman? Not that it should automatically dismiss him from the conversation. But the point is it should be part of the conversation.
There is no question Edelman has been an important player for the Patriots. He is one of Brady's top receiving threats. He is one of the game's best possession receivers.
Instead of engaging in ridiculous debates, let's enjoy Edelman's Super Bowl performance. He was one of the few players worth watching Sunday. His 10-catch, 140-yard outing was a bright spot on an otherwise dark day for offenses. He earned the trip to Disney World.
A trip to Canton? Well, that's another story.