Patriots receiver's NFL backup plan was to become Ohio firefighter

New England's Julian Edelman said Ross Township Fire Department Chief Steve Miller was "going to give me a shot" if his football career didn't pan out

By Nick O'Malley

BOSTON — Before he was a legendary receiver for the New England Patriots, Julian Edelman’s future in the NFL was very much in doubt.

A dual-threat quarterback at Kent State, Edelman wasn’t a lock to make it in the league — and he knew it. During a recent interview with actor Kevin Hart, Edelman explained that he’d actually started to explore an alternative career if football didn’t pan out.

“When I walked off that field, I was thinking of new careers,” Edelman said. “I went to like a firehouse in Cincinnati, looked at some stuff like that.”

Hart joked that Edelman would have been in line to do some firefighter calendars, which didn’t sound like a bad idea to the former Patriot.

“A couple calendars, give back to charity,” Edelman said. “Was that what it goes for, right? You do the calendar, you give it to charity. That’s what we do.”

It seems like Edelman had a lot of appreciation for that fire department giving him a backup plan. In 2016, Edelman posted a photo of himself at the Ross Township Fire Department with chief Steve Miller. Edelman said that the department just outside Cincinnati, Ohio was ready to give him a shot.

“Going down memory lane here in Cincinnati,” Edelman wrote on Facebook. “I stopped by the Ross Township Fire Department to see Chief Steve Miller. It was 9 years ago and I was looking to possibly work with Steve and his staff. He’s a good man that was going to give me a shot. I eventually decided to try and live out my dream of playing football,” Edelman wrote”

“The fact that Steve welcomed me into his fire house ... and was willing to work with me will always mean the world. Appreciate ya Steve!” Edelman added.

Coming out of college, Edelman knew that he’d have to change positions to make it in the NFL. However, he did have a chance to make it as a professional quarterback, just not in the United States.

Edelman told Hart that he received — and turned down — an offer to play quarterback in the Canadian Football League.

“I wasn’t going to go as a quarterback. I had to change positions. I couldn’t throw,” Edelman said of his NFL chances. “Then the CFL came and they want to be to go play quarterback. I just decided, like, I didn’t grow up wanting to go to CFL. I’m gonna go enter the NFL.”

It turned out to be a good decision for Edelman to bet on himself in the NFL. The seventh-round draft pick eventually developed into the Patriots’ No. 1 receiver and became a playoff legend in New England. After 12 seasons in Foxborough, Edelman called it a career in 2021. He now works as a football analyst for “Inside the NFL” and hosts a podcast, “Games with Names.”

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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