Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman’s retirement announcement Monday evening was met with an outpouring of congratulations from teammates past and present.
Former teammate Tom Brady chimed in via Instagram with a lengthy post of appreciation.
There were several others.
“I appreciate you, bro!” wrote running back James White. “Best of luck with the next step.”
“Been around a lot of players throughout my time in the NFL,” added former Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan. “All of them the best competitors. But none compares to [Julian Edelman]. You were an inspiration early in my career, a hell of a freaking teammate, and someone to call me brother for the rest of our lives. Congrats brother.”
Among the others who offered their kudos were linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, offensive tackle Trent Brown, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, running back Sony Michel, and retired linebacker Rob Ninkovich.
Edelman, 34, has decided to call it a career as a result of nagging knee pain. Twelve years after the Patriots drafted him in the seventh round, he steps away as a fan favorite and key performer in several memorable wins.
“Few players can match Julian’s achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select,” said coach Bill Belichick in a statement. “It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness, and will to excel.
“Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out. Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances.”
Belichick’s right-hand man, Berj Najarian, also paid his respects. He shared a photo of the pair from February 2019, when Edelman won Super Bowl LIII MVP following a 10-catch, 141-yard performance.
“Just one day out of 4,369 as a Patriot but they all proved the same thing — that desire, relentlessness, and sacrifice can make every goal achievable,” Najarian wrote.
Several players included squirrel emojis in their congratulatory messages, referencing Edelman’s endearing nickname.
“One of the best to do it,” said quarterback Jarrett Stidham. “Thanks for everything, Bubs. It was an honor to be your teammate.”
The messages extended well beyond the Patriots organization.
“Legend!” said Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown. “Grew up watching you. Blessed that I was in a position to talk to you and watch you work during camp. Respect!”
Fellow wide receivers — Dez Bryant and Marvin Jones Jr. — as well as former Boston athletes — ex-Celtics center Kelly Olynyk and ex-Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino — all spoke up, too.
Even Patriots superfan Jon Bon Jovi chimed in: “Jules, you’re a warrior… and an inspiration…”
As did Food Network host Guy Fieri: “Congrats on one hell of a career, brutha! Can’t wait to see what’s next for ya.”
Gordie Gronkowski had a little fun with his comment, teasing a potential return à la his brother, Rob Gronkowski, who retired from the Patriots before returning to action with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We have seen this before…” Gordie wrote. “Will it last most than 13 months? All seriousness, congratulations bro!!”
But perhaps nobody offered a more comprehensive encapsulation of Edelman’s time in New England than Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“Julian Edelman is one of the great success stories in our franchise’s history,” Kraft said in a statement. “There aren’t many players who earn an NFL roster spot at a position they have never played before. Julian not only did that as a seventh-round draft selection, but he is retiring with the second-most career receptions in franchise history and as a three-time Super Bowl Champion, including his last as Super Bowl MVP.
“No one was more committed to his craft and honing his skills than Jules. His explosiveness off the line, quickness in his cuts, and elusiveness after the catch made him one of the hardest players to defend throughout his career. His clutch catches in our biggest games and overall toughness made him a fan favorite.
“Over the past 12 years, I have enjoyed watching him grow as a player, as a person, and as a father. In 2019, I had the privilege of traveling to Israel with Julian, which might be the only place where he is more popular than here in New England.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.