Super Bowl 53 has come and gone. While it was not the most exciting game in the 53-year history (neither was Super Bowl 50) it will be known for the defensive performance of both sides. In the midst of the defensive battle, a wide receiver was having a Super Bowl to remember. That receiver was Julian Edelman.
Now, the name is not going to jump off the screen to you like Julio or Larry Fitzgerald but Julian Edelman did what was asked of him throughout the game and delivered. He finished the game with 10 catches for over 100 yards and provided sparks for the New England offense when it was needed. He was the go-to receiver and earned the Super Bowl MVP award. Thus he became the third player during the Patriots six Super Bowl wins to win the award. The other player not named Tom Brady was Deion Branch a wide receiver who won the MVP against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 39. Branch caught 11 passes for 133 yards, only one more catch than Edelman.
The MVP award is typically for the quarterback and now three receivers have won the award. However, this article is not meant to acknowledge the wide receivers but rather focus on Julian Edelman. Julian Edelman is Jewish and when he was named the MVP he actually became the first Jewish Super Bowl MVP. To win a Super Bowl is pretty incredible but to be named the MVP is also pretty cool. Edelman not only did both but surprised every NFL fan.
There are not a lot of Jews in the NFL. Most of the Jewish people affiliated with the NFL either own the team or are a General Manager. There are three known Jewish football players in the NFL and Edelman is one of them. Being does not always mean just having Judaism as your religion. When I was younger I was so excited when I found out certain actors or other famous people were famous. When I went to go tell my dad about my new knowledge he made me think about my statement.
Just because someone is Jewish are they practicing or consider themselves Jewish? I thought about this idea and looked at famous Jews in a different way. In 2014, Julian Edelman talked about his Judaism and while he was not the most involved or practicing Jew he rediscovered Judaism as an adult. He took a birthright trip, he wrote a book that referenced Zionism and Theodor Herzl and has begun celebrating Jewish holidays.
Edelman grew up with a Jewish father and while he was not very observant what stuck out to me was what Edelman did in 2018. In wake of arguably the deadliest Jewish massacre in the past year, Edelman wore custom made cleats with the Hebrew phrase בזיכרון עץ חיים which means "In Memory of Etz Chaim (Tree of Life). This phrase was meant to remember the synagogue in Pittsburgh and to honor those who were lost in the synagogue shooting. What I noticed on the other cleat was the phrase "Stronger than Hate." It has been common for players to wear different designs on their cleats but this was the first time it was done to honor people similar to me. I have passion when people show their roots or heritage and Julian did just that.
People can look at the Super Bowl in different ways but this year I got to look at it differently than a fan. Julian Edelman had to prove why he belonged in the NFL and he actually did not even play wide receiver in college. He was called undersized, too slow and it was said that maybe he could be a free agent at best. That was ten years ago and now he has established himself as one of the top slot receivers in the NFL. He has been able to establish a great pro football career but become a face for the Jewish fans. Thank you, Jules, you have become the person we needed and we are kvelling for you.