Longtime rivals Peyton Manning and Julian Edelman happen to agree on one thing: they’re happy that Manning stole away Tom Brady’s favorite receiver in 2013.
When Julian Edelman was drafted to the New England Patriots in 2009, Tom Brady was still in the throes of a heated rivalry with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
The Manning-Brady rivalry dominated the 2000s, with analysts debating who was more talented between the three-time Super Bowl champion and the Lombardi winner following the 2006 season. Overall, Brady has the edge over Manning in regular and postseason games combined (11-6), but Manning has the edge when it comes to postseason wins (3-2).
Even though Brady has silenced the GOAT debate, Manning does have that edge in the postseason. And one of those wins — the 2013 AFC Championship that gave Manning the edge — was partially because Manning stole Brady’s favorite receiver at the time.
And because he did, it opened up an opportunity for Patriots legend Julian Edelman to become enshrined in Patriots history.
Peyton Manning and Julian Edelman remain thankful that the Broncos stole away Wes Welker from Tom Brady
Manning joined Edelman and Sam Morril for the latest episode of their “Games With Names” podcast to rehash the 2013 NFL season opener between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos.
This kicked off a season in which the Broncos went all the way to the Super Bowl, where they were ultimately felled by a young Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom.
On the podcast, Manning went into detail about how he finessed getting Welker out of Foxborough to come and play at Empower Field at Mile High (starts at 36:40).
“You know, it’s funny. When you throw a touchdown in the first game to a new receiver, you sort of think about all the things that happened prior to that. I remember being down in Miami, I was playing golf with Dan Marino of all people. And saying, ‘Dan I gotta skip this hole’ and I called Wes Welker and went into full college recruiting mode just like I was back at Tennessee.
I felt like I had a good track record as a recruiting host, right, I was a pretty good closer. I went into that mode with Wes Welker, it was a par five, gave me plenty of time to give him all [of] my cheesy pitch lines and kind of sealed the deal.”
Because Manning lured away Welker to play for the Broncos, it opened up an opportunity to have Edelman more involved in the Patriots offense. During his first few years with the Patriots, Edelman was primarily a special teams returner. In fact, when Edelman made a stunning return his rookie season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick predicted that Welker would become Wally Pipp.
“You ever hear of Wally Pipp? You never heard of him? Well, he played first base before Lou Gehrig,” Belichick joked with a wry smile. “That might be the punt return story.”
“Hey, he can have it!” Welker laughed.
“Way to compete,” Belichick said sardonically, and it turned out Edelman would inherit that role. By the time 2013 rolled around, Edelman had just finished his rookie contract and was entertaining offers from other NFL teams, including the New York Giants.
He signed a one-year deal to remain in Foxborough, while the Patriots signed Danny Amendola with the intention that he would take over after Welker. Although Amendola was a clutch receiver who spent four years in New England, Edelman stole the show during the 2013 season and became the next prolific Patriots wide receiver.
As fate would have it, it was Edelman who nabbed nine catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns in an iconic Week 12 comeback win against the Denver Broncos. Edelman has Manning to thank for that (starts at 36:16).
“Now, after stealing Wes Welker from [the Patriots] – which, thank you, I appreciate that. It gave me my opportunity along with [the] Aaron Hernandez drama. You know when guys are leaving that gives the opportunity for other guys.”
Brady may be the reason Jules won three Super Bowls and one Super Bowl MVP, but it turns out that Edelman has Brady’s rival to thank for getting a wide-open shot at becoming a Patriots legend.