JU­LIAN EDEL­MAN

Maxim - - CONTENTS - — AN­DREW BUR­MON

THE NFL’S MOST IN­TREPID WIDE RE­CEIVER IS A MAN IN A HURRY

JU­LIAN EDEL­MAN MAY BE ONE OF THE SHORT­EST RE­CEIVERS IN THE GAME, BUT WITH A SU­PER BOWL RING AND OUT­SIZE AM­BI­TION, HE’S ABOUT TO BE­COME A MA­JOR PRES­ENCE. IF HE CAN ONLY STAY ON HIS FEET. “THERE ARE A LOT OF MEN-CHIL­DREN OUT THERE, AND WHEN THEY MEET A GUY THEIR OWN SIZE, THEY PANIC. JULES IS DIF­FER­ENT. HE’S JUST KAMIKAZE.”

SIXTY-ONE HOURS AF­TER hoist­ing the Vince Lom­bardi Tro­phy on a makeshift stage in Uni­ver­sity of Phoenix Sta­dium, Ju­lian Edel­man steps onto the roof of a for­mer troop trans­port and waves the flag of Pa­tri­ots Na­tion. It’s cold, but he’s wear­ing a T-shirt. He’s yelling. He’s danc­ing. He’s trend­ing on Twit­ter. And he’s gamely field­ing ques­tions—save the ones about whether he suf­fered a con­cus­sion in the fourth quar­ter, or about “Sab­rina,” the Tin­der user who just posted an im­age show­ing him asleep in a messy bed un­der the cap­tion “Just fucked Edel­man no lie.”

“Note to self,” he says, laugh­ing, a few days later. “No more self­ies while un­con­scious.”

Edel­man spent his first four years in the NFL trans­form­ing him­self from a run-and-gun quar­ter­back into a hy­per-ag­ile x in one of the Pa­tri­ots’ com­plex of­fen­sive schemes, and an­other two on bruis­ing cross­ing routes. Now, post-cham­pi­onship, he’s got a small win­dow, maybe two or three weeks, to make Ju­lian Edel­man a thing. Then he needs to get back to the gym. “I can re­mem­ber, af­ter my last game in col­lege, think­ing about be­com­ing a fire­man,” says Edel­man, whom a pro scout de­scribed as “too small and un­con­ven­tional” when the Pa­tri­ots took him in the last round of the 2009 NFL draft. Now show­ered and beard­less in the Man­darin Ori­en­tal’s 35th-floor lobby in mid­town Man­hat­tan, he’s the one on fire.

“What I have to do now,” he says, “is think about this mo­ment and do ev­ery­thing I can to cap­i­tal­ize on this op­por­tu­nity.”

Edel­man, who goes by Jules, has a four-year con­tract po­ten­tially worth $19 mil­lion, as well as re­la­tion­ships with Puma and Coachup, a pri­vate-trainer-match­mak­ing start-up, but still lacks ma­jor en­dorse­ment deals (if you don’t count his gig as a pitch­man for Romm Di­a­monds in Brockton, Mass.). But a star who looks that good en­joy­ing post-coital REM in a stranger’s bed be­longs on a bill­board for some­thing or other.

Even if he shrugs off com­pli­ments with a pinch of cherry Skoal, Jules knows it’s time to be the face of some­thing. He may be “an­other short­ish white dude,” as he puts it, but other short­ish white dudes don’t pull mod­els like him or catch like him or have a Su­per Bowl ring like his.

The mo­ment calls for strat­egy. “It’s like a test,” he says of be­ing in the public eye. “If you didn’t study, you’re go­ing to be ner­vous as shit…” Spy­ing Michael Stra­han sit­ting with Chris Rock in the cor­ner of the ho­tel restau­rant, he pauses, con­sid­er­ing the po­ten­tial plays.

Edel­man ap­proaches the pair, shak­ing Stra­han’s hand and al­most bow­ing to Rock. It would be too for­ward to sit down, so he thanks Stra­han again for hav­ing him on his show ear­lier in the day, says some­thing about the at­ten­tion, and backs away. Stra­han, who has spent the bulk of his re­tire­ment on cam­era, laughs. “Get used to it,” the Hall of Famer booms. “Just get used to it.” Sit­ting at a nearby ta­ble, Jules makes it clear he’s happy with the in­ter­ac­tion—“chris fuck­ing Rock!”—then re­fo­cuses. If a voice in his head is recit­ing Rock’s “no sex in the Cham­pagne room” bit, it’s shouted down by an­other voice, the one that re­minds Edel­man, “You don’t have any of this shit un­less you play good foot­ball.” That voice be­longs to his fa­ther, Frank Edel­man. Jules talks about him with bald-faced ad­mi­ra­tion. “You know there’s a say­ing, ‘East side of the tracks’? Well, my dad was from the east side of the free­way on the east side of the tracks,” he says. “You’ve got your fi­nan­cial ad­viser and your ac­coun­tant and your mar­ket­ing peo­ple and your friends, but my de­ci­sions al­ways come back to my fa­ther and me.” It was his fa­ther who told him to hang tough in Pop Warner when he was lining up to get mauled by big­ger kids from fancier towns. “I’d go to my dad and say, ‘When am I go­ing to grow?’” Ju­lian re­mem­bers. “He would say, ‘Son, when you get to be the same size, it’s go­ing to be un­fair.’”

“Edel­mans don’t ma­ture un­til they’re 18,” Frank grum­bles into the phone. “But he ben­e­fited from it be­cause he was never afraid of a big­ger guy. There are a lot of men-chil­dren out there, and when they meet a guy their own size, they panic. Jules is dif­fer­ent. He’s just kamikaze.” Frank gives his son full credit for all the suc­cess. “What­ever he’s got­ten, he’s got­ten him­self,” he says, paus­ing. “I sob when I think about it.”

Still, the Su­per Bowl win isn’t the end of the story. If Ju­lian doesn’t suf­fer head trauma at the hands of a spe­cial teams gun­ner, his ca­reer could still be cut short by Bill Belichick, the dou­ble-edged sword pa­trolling the side­line in a hoodie. Like ev­ery Pa­triot, ev­ery Pats fan, and no one else in Amer­ica, Edel­man talks about “Coach Belichick” with rev­er­ence. But he also un­der­stands that loy­alty is sec­ondary. “If there’s some­one out there who’s bet­ter or cheaper or some­thing like that, I’ll lose my job,” he says.

A trade would be dev­as­tat­ing for Edel­man. There are few Qbs—and fewer coaches—who pre­fer a fly­weight shut­tle-run spe­cial­ist to a leggy sprinter. Tal­ented as he is, Edel­man suf­fers from a con­di­tion com­mon among re­ceivers: He’s at the mercy of the guy throw­ing the ball. The fact that Brady, dom­i­nant as he may be, is 37 looms large. “It’s a temp job,” he says, then he points across the restau­rant. “With Mr. Stra­han, you see how he seized op­por­tu­ni­ties. I guar­an­tee he worked his ass off to get where he’s at and do what he’s do­ing right now. You look at that and you have noth­ing but re­spect.”

Edel­man shows his re­spect qui­etly, opt­ing not to stop at Stra­han’s ta­ble on his way out. That doesn’t pre­vent the for­mer end from watch­ing him move through the restau­rant. Whether you’re on the field or on tele­vi­sion, there is al­ways some­one new gun­ning for a spot, some­one younger and hun­grier, ready to work harder than ev­ery­one else.

There goes that guy.

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