Patriots’ Julian Edelman becomes first-ever Jewish player to win Super Bowl MVP
Edelman has 10 receptions for 141 yards as he helps New England Patriots win a low-scoring final in Atlanta after he was forced to sit out last year’s game with an injury
4 February 2019
New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman (11) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. Edelman was named the Most Valuable Player.
ATLANTA — The Patriots’ Julian Edelman was selected as the Super Bowl MVP while helping lift the Patriots to a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, apparently becoming the first-ever Jewish player to win the honor.
Edelman was forced to watch only as a spectator a year ago as his disappointed Patriots teammates trudged off the field as Super Bowl losers.
Catch after catch in this one, Tom Brady’s favorite wide receiver helped make them winners again as Edelman had 10 receptions for 141 yards.
The two met at midfield with confetti flying, and embraced for several moments — eyes filled with the tears of champions.
New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman, left, and Tom Brady celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game against the Los Angeles Rams, February 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
“I’m pretty ecstatic,” Edelman said. “I’m emotionally pooped. I’m physically and emotionally pooped.”
Edelman, one of only a few Jewish players in the league, is certainly the most successful, through his role as Brady’s favorite target. The Brady-to-Edelman connection has been a major part of the Patriots’ dominance in recent years, and the pair have now won three Super Bowls together.
Edelman, 32, also is the most outwardly Jewish NFL player, embracing that side of his identity over time. He has a Jewish father but was not raised in the religion, and through the Patriots front office often would defer on questions about his religion.
Congratulations to @Patriots and the Jewish people’s Mega-mensch owner, Robert Kraft for winning his 6th Super Bowl trophy and to Julian Edelman, a gridiron Maccabee, for winning the MVP trophy.
He didn’t establish himself as a standout until the 2013 season. Coincidentally or not, it was during his breakout year that Edelman identified as Jewish in an interview with the NFL Network.
Since then, he has shown his Jewish pride on a number of occasions. In a 2014 game, for instance, he wore a pin featuring the Israeli flag. He has tweeted about Jewish holidays. He even went on a Birthright-style trip to Israel, and has written a children’s book that references modern-day Zionism founder Theodor Herzl. After the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in the fall that killed 11, he wore special cleats with Hebrew on them to honor the victims.
In a congratulatory tweet, Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer hailed Edelman as a “gridiron Maccabee,” a reference to the Jewish warriors from the Hanukkah story.
It was an incredibly satisfying ending to a big-time comeback season for Edelman, a guy considered by Brady to be like a little brother — some teammates even jokingly say they have a “bromance” — and widely regarded as one of the greatest slot receivers in league history.
Even when things weren’t working early for the Patriots, Edelman kept the offense going and the clock rolling as a safety valve for Brady. He also had a 13-yard grab during the go-ahead touchdown drive with 7 minutes left in the game.
What he did in this Super Bowl was exactly what the Patriots’ offense was missing in last year’s 41-33 loss to Philadelphia.
Edelman finished the regular season with 74 catches and a team-high 850 receiving yards with six touchdowns. He kept it going through New England’s first two playoffs games, hauling in 16 catches for a team-high 247 yards.
Tom Brady had won four of the MVP awards in the Patriots’ previous five Super Bowl victories.
It seemed only fitting that Edelman walked off the field with this one.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.