The morning after becoming the seventh wide receiver to win Super Bowl MVP, the prototypical Belichick utility man reflected on an improbable ascent

Even as he collected the Most Valuable Player award for Super Bowl LIII, Julian Edelman somehow preserved his image as one of the NFL’s great support acts. He had caught 10 passes for 141 yards on Sunday night, serving as the New England Patriots’ most effective offensive weapon in a 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams. And yet, the morning after, he was overshadowed by his head coach.

Bill Belichick had put on a masterful performance of his own, devising a defensive gameplan that kept the league’s second-most prolific offense out of the of the end zone. This is the sixth championship that he has won in New England, moving him level with Curly Lambeau and George Halas as the most successful coaches in NFL history.

Such feats are not achieved by chance, as Edelman was keen to point out. “I remember seeing coach one day after practice,” said the receiver. “I don’t know if he remembers this, but I was a rookie and by the grace of god we were walking out [of the team facility] at the same time.

“I’d said maybe three words to him before that: I’d been on the team for six months. And I just looked at him because I’d seen him on the treadmill watching film at 10 o’clock at night. I said, ‘Coach, you sure like football, huh?’ He goes, ‘It beats being a plumber. See you tomorrow.’”

Speaking at the same podium moments later, Belichick was quick to challenge his player on the detail. “First of all, I think Julian might have misquoted me,” he replied, to laughter from the floor. “I have a ton of respect for plumbers. I can’t turn the water on myself.”

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