He’s a 5-foot-10, 198-pound former college quarterback, which is hardly the expected description for one of the New England Patriots’ most physical players.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman has built a nine-year NFL career on his ability to make tough catches and take tougher hits.
“He’s got a great, you know, playing strength about him,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “He always has had that. He’s a very physical route runner, especially for his size. I think he enjoys mixing it up.”
Edelman certainly does — in a variety of ways. The Bay Area native on Thursday posted to his Twitter account a modified In-N-Out Burger logo featuring the message “Beat-LA.”
To that, Edelman added, “Animal style.”
The Internet’s reaction was swift and passionate, both for and against Edelman and the Patriots.
“It’s just having fun with what’s going on and enjoying it,” he explained later. “But also being able to communicate with people who are supporting you and the franchise.”
Edelman was one of the Patriots who most aggressively embraced the team’s status as underdogs to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game.
For that occasion, he posted on social media a video hyping the Patriots under the slogan “Bet Against Us,” which also made its way onto T-shirts in the Boston area.
New England beat the Chiefs 37-31 in overtime and remain 2.5-point favorites over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Edelman is one of Brady’s most reliable and frequent targets. He caught seven passes for 96 yards in the AFC final and led the team with 850 yards on 74 receptions during the regular season.
“You don’t think of Julian as being a big guy,” Brady said. “But Julian has a great center of gravity. He’s got a lot of core strength. He plays much bigger than his frame. That provides a huge benefit for our team.”
As for his feelings about In-N-Out, Edelman confirmed he enjoys the restaurant. And what would be order?
“I’ll go double-double, animal style,” he said. “Then I’ll go a single … actually I’ll go two double-doubles. One animal style and one raw onion. Animal fry and a Coke, with ice.”
Patriots lay it on line
Brady’s praise of an offensive line that has not allowed a sack and has cleared the way for New England to rush 67 times for 331 yards — an average of 4.94 yards per carry — in two playoff games was not limited to the five beefy men who work in the trenches.
Brady, the five-time Super Bowl champion often called the “GOAT” — an acronym for greatest of all time — bestowed a similar honor on 70-year-old offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who is in his 33rd season with the Patriots.
“They’re just a great group,” Brady said Thursday. “They work so well together, and they have the best offensive line coach in history coaching them, a guy who holds those guys to such a high standard every day. They’re the heart and soul of our offense.”
Scarnecchia seemed about as comfortable with the praise as 6-foot-8, 380-pound Patriots left tackle Trent Brown would be in yoga pants.
“It makes me cringe,” Scarnecchia said. “We’re playing the Rams, a team with a great defensive line, in a few days. I don’t want that. I don’t think that. I don’t even pretend to think that. I’ve been humbled so many times in this game over so many years, it’s always waiting around the corner."
In tune with Brady
Brady’s final media session, in a packed ballroom at the team’s downtown hotel, was interrupted by someone who started to strum a ukulele and serenade Brady with “We Are the Champions,” by Queen.
“This is a nice break in the action,” Brady said. “You should be onstage.”
After thanking the performer, Brady interrupted the next question by a Boston Globe reporter, saying, “You don’t want to sing the question?”
Starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower missed New England’s walk-through workout Thursday because of an illness. Coach Bill Belichick said he will be reevaluated Friday.