Julian Edelman’s playoff success doesn’t prove Hall of Fame eligibility

By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own. 

Former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman announced his retirement on April 12. He played 12 seasons, all in New England, won three Super Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl 53. Immediately after his announcement, people started debating his Hall of Fame candidacy. Some believe he should get in, but for this week’s column I want to discuss why I believe he hasn’t earned a gold jacket.

Besides the lack of regular season numbers, especially compared to other receivers from the last decade, he also lacks the necessary requirements. In order to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, you have to be retired for at least five years. While Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections are not officially required, I’d consider them an unofficial requirement since every recent inductee has at least multiple Pro Bowl selections and most likely a few All-Pro selections.

Edelman doesn’t have either, and the fact he couldn’t even get a Pro Bowl makes his case to get in even harder for me. The Pro Bowl is a popularity contest to an extent, but it’s also a much easier accolade to achieve. If he can’t make one Pro Bowl in 12 seasons, why should be able to get into Canton? 

There’s been hundreds of Pro Bowlers in NFL history, there’s only 354 players, coaches, and contributors in the Hall of Fame including the Class of 2021. How can you be in the top roughly 350 all time if you can’t even get one Pro Bowl? I don’t think you can argue that someone deserves a spot in Canton if they can’t get at least one Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection, regardless of what they accomplished in their career. 

The main argument Edelman has is his postseason success. Edelman had 118 catches for 1,442 yards and six games with over 100 receiving yards in the playoffs, all are second all-time in the playoffs behind Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice. 

However, he clearly lucked out in playing for the Patriots. He played in 19 playoff games and had six postseasons with multiple games. New England almost always made it to the AFC Championship, if not the Super Bowl. This meant Edelman had more opportunities to play and accumulate stats. No team in recent history has come close to what the Patriots have accomplished. 

Since 2001 they’ve only missed the playoffs three times, two coming before 2010 and last season. Until 2020 Edelman didn’t know what it was like to miss the playoffs. If he played for the Indianapolis Colts or Baltimore Ravens he wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many playoff games, and can’t accumulate playoff success. I feel that playoff success is important, but when considering the top playoff performers of all time you have to consider the teams they played for. 

Some wide receivers only got a few playoff games in their career like Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, others like Edelman and Rice made it almost every year. It’s important to consider playoff success, but I don’t think playoff success alone can get you into the Hall of Fame. The regular season has to also matter, and that’s where Edelman’s case is lacking.

I’m not going to overlook his playoff success, it’s impressive and I’m not afraid to admit his postseason moments are legendary. However, I feel a Hall of Famer also has to perform in the regular season. Edelman doesn’t have nearly as much production in the regular season, and that’s why I feel he doesn’t deserve a spot.

In his career, he only has three seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards and only two with over 100 catches. He also never recorded 10 or more touchdowns in a season. If you’re going to be a Hall of Famer, I feel you need to consistently be at least a top 10 player at your position. 

Outside of those three years, I don’t think he was in the top 10. I understand he was primarily a slot receiver and they typically don’t put up the big numbers. However, former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and former New England tight end Rob Gronkowski trusted Edelman. If you have the trust of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, I feel you should be able to put up some better numbers. 
I have a lot of respect for Edelman, he came into the league as a seventh-round pick and switched positions. He defied the odds, played 12 years, and had a very successful career. He should be proud of what he accomplished. He deserves to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame, but I don’t think he should even be close to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

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