Julian Edelman never shied away from mentoring teammates during his career with the New England Patriots. No matter the player — veteran or rookie, first-rounder or undrafted player — Edelman would do what he could to help out, particularly at the receiver position.
That was true for Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers, two undrafted free agents who excel in the slot. With Edelman’s career winding down, the receiver might have been less interested in educating the players who were likely to supplant him. But that’s not the route Edelman took, even if Wes Welker didn’t assume a role as mentor for him..
“I was always in Gunner’s corner,” Edelman told the hosts of “Pardon My Take” podcast during a recent interview. “I would always give Gunner all my tips. I would still compete against him. We were in different parts of our careers. I was 12 years in when Gunner got in — or 11 years in. (When I was a rookie), that was when Wes was seven years deep. He had it still going. It was different. We also had a different relationship — me and Wes. And Bill (Belichick) probably saw that.”
Edelman was asked about the moment Belichick famously asked Wes Welker if he’d heard of Wally Pipp, the Yankees first baseman who was essentially forgotten when Lou Gehrig took over. Belichick told the story with Welker one the sideline for a big punt return from Edelman.
The point? Edelman seemed poised to replace Welker, if he wasn’t careful. Apparently not heeding the message, Welker gave up the punt return job to Edelman on the spot. And in short time, Edelman supplanted Welker not just as punt returner but also as slot receiver.
“He probably was digging at him a little to try to make him play his best. That’s what Bill does. He gets the best out of guys,” Edelman said.
Did Belichick ever have that conversation with Edelman?
“No, never,” Edelman said.