EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Julian Edelman is not your typical NFL player. First off, he’s only 5-feet 10-inches tall and 200 pounds.
But the wide receiver for the New England Patriots has become famous for his scrappy playing style and hard work on the field, helping his team win two Super Bowls. He also holds the team’s franchise record for the longest punt return, and the most punts returned for touchdowns.
Like his quarterback, Tom Brady, Edelman was a late-round draft pick, and had to reinvent himself from a college quarterback at Kent State to become one of Brady’s most reliable go-to receivers.
But this season, Edelman’s storied career had to be put on hold. In an August preseason game, he tore his ACL and wound up in a knee brace.
But while his career may be paused, he’s still managed to keep busy. On Tuesday, Hachette Book Group will publish his memoir, “Relentless,” written with Tom E. Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England. And he’s also expanded his relationship with Joe’s Jeans.
In addition to his prowess on the field, Edelman is known for his good looks and fashion sense. In April, Joe’s tapped him to become the brand’s ambassador and appear in its advertising. The campaign was so successful that Edelman worked with the denim brand on a capsule collection that will launch Nov. 1. The capsule will consist of a new athletic-fit jean, The Folsom, in two custom washes, along with a sueded cotton shirt and hooded sweatshirt. The prices will range from $78 to $188 and the denim will feature Edelman’s signature on the inside lining and a special label.
Last Sunday during the Patriots game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, Edelman joined Joe’s in a luxury box to cheer on his team — they won — and unveil some details about his latest projects.
WWD: How are you feeling?
Julian Edelman: You go through your sulking stage and now with the little things and the progress you have in day-to-day life, you start getting excited for the process for the road to recovery.
WWD: Do you know how long you’ll be out of commission?
J.E.: You never put a timetable on it, but if things are done correctly and we stay to plan, I’ll give myself a really good opportunity to play in the first game of the year next year. It’s all in the rehab. Nowadays with the injury that I have, it’s not easy, but the technology and procedures are so much more advanced than they have been in the last 20 years. They’re getting unbelievable results and I’m anticipating I’ll get those same results and come back stronger.
WWD: Is it strange to be a spectator rather than on the field?
J.E.: It is. I’ve played here, but I’ve never been to a game in New York at Jets stadium from this perspective and it’s tough. Most people don’t understand football is a 12-month job. In the off-season — you can attest this with the people from Joe’s — anytime we did a shoot or anything, it had to be after 2:00. Because from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., it’s football training — get your body worked on, things like that. Then you go into the organized team activities in the spring, you work with your teammates and that’s where your bonding comes from. You mold your cohesiveness. Then you go into training camp, and that’s awful, no one likes training camp. It’s consistently trying to break you — it’s like boot camp. You see which guys are mentally strong enough to withstand the length of an NFL football season because it’s brutal and that’s what NFL training camp tries to prepare you for, that journey. And to go through all those phases and in the first week, have a season-ending injury is terrible. Especially coming off the year we had before when we won the Super Bowl. But the more I worry about it, it’s not really going to help me. It’s just wasted energy and wasted time. This isn’t my first rodeo with an injury. I’ve had some low spots in my career with injuries but I’ve been able to overcome them and I expect to do the same with this through hard work, discipline and dedication.
WWD: How did you get involved with Joe’s Jeans?
J.E.: Right after the Super Bowl, I’d been dipping in and out of the fashion world with ambassadorship with a bunch of brands here and there and Joe’s contacted us. I’d seen Joe’s, but I didn’t wear it. But I liked the style — very minimalistic, which is how I dress — so I tried it out. I have really big athletic legs and it’s not always fun to wear raw denim when it’s tight and takes you two months to break it in. But I put on a pair of their jeans and with the way they looked and felt and the ability to move around, it was a match made in heaven.
WWD: How much input did you have in the creation of the capsule?
J.E.: It was a cool process. It’s very minimal, simple and clean. With the jeans, I’d say taper it from the calf down, it’ll make me look slimmer. I always wear darker jeans for that reason. And give me a little flood, I want to show the shoe. We picked a hoodie because you can wear it under a leather jacket or a peacoat, it’s neutral. Also with the T-shirts, I always like a bigger tee with a washed look and a little roll. I like it a little slimmer in the waist and I like the neck to be a little looser. Then we added a slit in the back. Then with the label, it says Julian by Joe’s with a small J11 tag on the pocket. I wanted to stay away from making that the focal point and emphasize Julian Edelman rather than J11, which is more of my football side.
WWD: How do you think it’ll be received?
J.E.: We’ll see how it goes. It’s an exciting process to see if people are going to like what you have a fingerprint on.
WWD: You have a book coming out next week. What’s it about?
J.E.: Yes, “Relentless.” This was a huge project. Tom Curran is a Boston media guy and I’ve known him for eight or nine years. We’ve always had a good relationship and I’ve always been very comfortable with him and respect his work. When I was approached with an opportunity to write a memoir, it was presented that Tom Curran was interested in doing it. I know the kind of guy he is and he’s a Boston blue-collar dude who has kids that play sports and I can relate to, so we did it.
WWD: How did the writing process work?
J.E.: We spent from 120 to 170 hours working on it on the phone and in person. My off-season consisted of getting up, training, and during my commute home in L.A. — which is usually about an hour at 10 mph — I would call him, we would talk and knock it out. It was a long process and we put a lot of work in it so I’m excited to see whether people like it.
WWD: Why did you want to write a memoir?
J.E.: One of the reasons I wanted to do it was because I’m tired of telling my story. [Laughs] So I can say, here, read it, this is everything that happened. There are a bunch of cool stories of the transition of me becoming a receiver from a quarterback in college to being a special teams guy, a role player, to working my way to the role I’ve earned now. It describes the developmental stages of how I got my mentality of competitiveness, discipline and hard work. There are stories about my stern, strict German mom and my loose-cannon dad. Everyone wants to know what it takes to get to where I’ve gotten: everything from Little League football to Little League baseball, basketball, to not being recruited — everything you have to overcome when you’re real young in the sports world.
WWD: But your journey is pretty remarkable.
J.E.: Writing the book was a pretty cool thing to go through, it really made me think of how crazy a journey it really was for this kid from Redwood City, Calif. When I was 12 years old, I was practicing my signature, but did I ever think I’d be a two-time Super Bowl champ, playing on arguably one of the best franchises of all time with the best quarterback of all time, for the best coach of all time? I was watching these guys in eighth grade and pretending to be Tom Brady and Randy Moss. It’s crazy.