New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Pats 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Photo/JTA-Al Bello-Getty Images)
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Pats 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams the 2019 Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Photo/JTA-Al Bello-Getty Images)

Julian Edelman, Jewish Bay Area native and NFL star wide receiver, announces retirement

Julian Edelman, the New England Patriots wide receiver and Redwood City native who has shown his Jewish pride on a number of occasions, will retire following a stellar 11-year career in which he won Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl LIII.

Edelman, who played in only six games last year due to a chronic knee injury, had his contract terminated Monday by the Patriots in a procedural move, ESPN reported. He announced his retirement in a video posted Monday to social media.

Unheralded out of Kent State and undersized at 5-10 and less than 200 pounds, Edelman was at his best in the big games, finishing second all-time with 118 postseason receptions, trailing only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s 151. He was a member of three Super Bowl champion teams. Edelman will also finish second all-time among Patriots receivers with 620 catches, behind Wes Welker’s 672.

Edelman, now 34, has a Jewish father but was not raised in the religion. It was during his breakout campaign in 2013 that, coincidentally or not, he identified as Jewish in an interview with the NFL Network.

In 2014, he wore a pin featuring the Israeli flag. Edelman has tweeted about Jewish holidays. He even went on a Birthright-style trip to Israel, and in 2019 visited the country with the Patriots’ Jewish owner, Robert Kraft. He wrote a children’s book that references modern-day Zionism founder Theodor Herzl.

After the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in the fall of 2018 that killed 11, he wore special cleats with Hebrew on them to honor the victims. Last month, he reached out on social media to NBA center Meyers Leonard, who used an antisemitic slur while playing a video game on the public Twitch channel.

“Let’s do a Shabbat dinner with some friends,” Edelman wrote to Leonard. “I’ll show you a fun time.”

Marc Brodsky
Marc Brodsky

Marc Brodsky is the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Chief Copy Editor. Prior to joining JTA in 2006, he served 15 years as the assistant managing editor at The New York Jewish Week. Marc also has worked as a reporter and editor in news and sports for daily and weekly newspapers in New Jersey.

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