I don’t need to make the case for keeping Julian Edelman out of the Hall of Fame because the rest of the world has already spent this week doing just that. Former Steeler Hines Ward hasn’t even been a FINALIST for the Hall despite having his own Super Bowl MVP award, 480 more career receptions than Edelman, 49 more TDs, and nearly DOUBLE Edelman’s career receiving yards. AND DID ANYONE EVER MENTION THAT HINES WARD WAS A FINE BLOCKER, TOO? How come no one ever talks about that?! And you know who else has more receiving yards and more touchdowns in his career than Julian Edelman? Dwayne Bowe. And Wayne Chrebet. And Jeremy Maclin. And Carl Pickens. And your mom.
None of it matters. The reason why so many people have started campaigning in earnest for Edelman’s exclusion from the Hall is because they already know where this is headed. He’s getting inducted. Probably on the first ballot. He’s gonna get a shitty mustard blazer, he’s gonna get formally enshrined in front of a sea of waving Barstool flags, and Chris Berman will come out of his Hawaiian shirt–patterned crypt to sweat all over the proceedings.
That’s how this shit works. This isn’t my first time seeing a good-but-not-great NFL player monopolize all the shine at the expense of his superior contemporaries. It doesn’t matter what you or I think about Julian Edelman’s Hall credentials, because you and I don’t see Edelman the way our inbred football subculture does.
I could tell the Hall committee—which waited THREE FUCKING YEARS to put Terrell Owens in—that Edelman’s predecessor Wes Welker was a statistically better receiver to Edelman in every category. I could tell them that if they want to induct players based on stories alone, Colin Kaepernick is right there waiting for them a year from now. I could tell them that David Tyree is the author of the greatest catch in Super Bowl history and not Edelman, which is a stretch (pun intended) but still fun to proclaim out loud. You think those fuckers will listen to a goddamn word I have to say? Bill Polian is on that committee. If Bill Polian were still running a team, he’d have Edelman playing quarterback and throwing passes to Lamar Jackson. Fuck Bill Polian. Fuck that entire committee with a table saw.
Because while the Baseball Hall of Fame has ensconced itself in a wall of velvet rope, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has problems of its own. Getting into Canton has always been a matter of visibility. You need to win titles. You need to be on national television a lot. You need to play with other Hall of Fame players and for Hall of Fame coaches. You need to play a visible position like wideout, because there’s a long history of other positions (like O-line) getting proportionally stiffed. That last point is a valid, proven one that even fossilized penis Greggggggggg Easterbrook has made many times. Or, at least, it was one that Easterbook made back when media outlets paid him to write about football for them. Those outlets wised up. The Hall never did.
The Hall has still prerequisites that go beyond mere on-the-field accomplishments. They want you in primetime and they want you smiling in the locker room afterward. That’s how they get to construct a You’ll Tell Your Grandkids You Got To See Him Play! narrative around the candidacy of someone like Edelman. I myself will not tell my grandkids about Julian Edelman. In fact, I won’t even tell them about FOOTBALL, lest they get curious and suddenly find old YouTube footage of Skip Bayless saying Tony Romo never had “it.” If my grandkids ask me what the NFL is, I’ll just tell them it’s a disbanded law enforcement agency. I won’t be far off.
So that’s how Julian Edelman will get enshrined. He was a practice squad–quality player who built himself into surprisingly decent one, and nothing more. But Edelman has rings, and he has friends in high places, and so his story gets to pass as legend now. Wes Welker never won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady, so he’s out. Dan Dierdorf held the Monday Night Football booth hostage for over a decade, so he’s in. Art Monk wouldn’t give any copy to reporters after games, so the committee let him twist for years before finally punching his ticket. You need to be seen. You need to play the game and then play the OTHER game as well.
Edelman has been seen. A lot. Far too much for my taste. But he’s done enough glad-handing and he’s fawned over Brady enough to satisfy the committee’s lust for politicking. Five years from now, they’ll be more than content to tick off a giant SKINTANGIBLES box next Edelman’s name, all while blithely ignoring more accomplished players whose own stories aren’t presented to them on a fucking silver breakfast tray. That’s how all this will go down. You don’t have to study a minute of tape to see it coming.