NFL: Super Bowl LIII-Winning Team Press Conference

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman holds the Pete Rozelle most valuable player trophy during a Super Bowl LIII news conference on Monday in Atlanta.

The Super Bowl MVP: Belichick can’t say enough about his QB-turned-receiver.

ATLANTA — Not 10 hours after he was finished shredding the Rams secondary, Julian Edelman stepped to the podium to accept the first Super Bowl MVP trophy of his storied career.

He was the best player on the field, and often the Patriots’ singular source of offense, in the team’s 13-3 Super Bowl LIII victory over the Rams.

Edelman went off for 10 receptions and 141 yards, helping the Pats gain control of the game.

The 32-year-old receiver had delivered epic playoff moments before: the touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the 2014 comeback versus the Ravens, the incredible fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks, the miracle fingertip grab versus the Falcons, and the 151-yard outing against the Chiefs in this year’s AFC Championship game.

His Super Bowl LIII performance was his most impressive yet.

Edelman kept the focus on the team’s accomplishment at his Monday morning press conference.

“My favorite play was the last play,” Edelman said. “When we took a knee.”

Bill Belichick followed Edelman at the podium. He shared stories about scouting the Kent State quarterback and watching him develop into one of the best receivers in franchise history.

Belichick said he was first tipped off about Edelman by Rick Gosselin, longtime sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News. When Belichick flipped on the film of Edelman at Kent State, he was intrigued. A game against nationally-ranked Ohio State stuck out.

“He didn’t have a lot of blocking, and they were getting killed by Ohio State, but what you saw in that game was how competitive he was, how hard he was to tackle, how tough he was,” Belichick said. “Even though it was three or four touchdowns they were behind, he played the game with an intensity that, honestly, was hard for them to handle.”

The Patriots worked out Edelman twice at Kent State prior to the 2009 draft, but they weren’t quite sure what to do with him after selecting him in the seventh round.

Belichick recalled teaching Edelman how to catch punts early in his rookie year.

“I had to go over there and show you, ‘Here’s how you actually do it,’” Belichick said, smirking. “As far as the ball spinning and which way it breaks and so forth.”

By the end of Edelman’s rookie year, Belichick figured he had something.

“I go back to his first playoff game against the Ravens (in the 2009 season), and he was probably our best player on the field,” Belichick said. “We didn’t play well that day. We got hammered. But he played that game the way he played the Ohio State game at Kent State — catching a slip screen on fourth-and-10 and breaking five tackles to get the first down...Coming back from the injury last year, you just see Julian every day competing against himself, trying to get better, trying to rehab and regain the excellence at his position.”

Edelman missed the first four games of the 2018 season due to a suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

By the time he returned, he was about a full year removed from ACL surgery. Edelman looked like himself from the beginning, re-emerging as Tom Brady’s most trusted target and then elevating his game to a MVP level in the postseason.

“Super Bowl MVP Jules?” special teams captain Matthew Slater said yesterday. “You talking about him?”

“Too small, too slow, so I was surprised he won MVP,” Slater joked.

Belichick offered the highest praise possible for Edelman at the MVP press conference.

“No one has worked harder in my career to develop his skills and his craft at a position he’d never played,” Belichick said.

“It’s an incredible story,” he added.