We mere humans tend to be guilty of being victims of the moment. The latest thing is the greatest as long as it’s doing well, and as soon as it’s not, it’s just about the worst thing that ever existed. Which is why there is conversation right now about New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman angling toward a career worthy of enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
The nine-year veteran doesn’t have the traditional statistics that come anywhere near sniffing Hall of Fame status, certainly not for a wide receiver who has played his entire career within the past decade. He has 499 receptions for 5390 yards and 30 touchdowns in the same number of seasons that Antonio Brown has compiled 837 receptions for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns. He averaged 47 yards per game.
But he has played in 18 postseason games over the course of his career, adding another 115 receptions for 1412 yards and five more touchdowns. He also averages 11.4 yards on 39 postseason punt returns, slightly better than his 11.2-yard career punt return average for the regular season on 177 returns.
The notion that any of this amounts to or prorates to a Hall of Fame wide receiver in the 21st century seems quite silly to me, and I find myself surprised that this is even a discussion we’re seriously having. But one wide receiver has his back—and one can easily wonder if there is some self-interest involved in his take.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for a few years now but had yet to crack the list of finalists. Though he caught 1000 passes for 12,083 yards with 85 touchdowns, starting his career back in 1998, those numbers no longer reflect what a Hall of Famer of this era looks like.
But Ward sees a Hall of Famer in Edelman, or at least that seems to be what he was suggesting, though he was quick to note that he doesn’t feel like he knows what a Hall of Famer is anymore and what the voters are looking for.
“I don’t really know what a Hall-of-Famer is”, he said. “I don’t know what the criteria is to be in the Hall. People go by stats, people go by championships – I really don’t know. I just know the eye test proves to me that when I see Julian Edelman in all the big games, I just know he rises to the occasion and makes plays after plays after plays”.
He had better hope so, because if Edelman is on that career trajectory, then it would give Ward a much better chance of getting in eventually as well. At the moment, it’s unlikely that either of them will ever be enshrined.