By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Julian Edelman got walloped over the middle by Kam Chancellor in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, just about the whole world went ahead and assumed that Edelman suffered a concussion on the play.
In fact, a New Yorker writer tackled “Julian Edelman and the Super Bowl’s Concussion Crisis.” A Slate writer said that Edelman staying in the game after taking “a brutal and unmistakable helmet-to-helmet” hit was a picture of the ugly and horrible side of football. The New York Times hit Edelman with a series of questions that led to a whole round of speculation on the status of his brain.
It was a pretty big story, and though years have passed, the general consensus is that Edelman suffered a concussion on the play.
But here’s the deal: he didn’t.
Speaking on the podcast “Pardon My Take” this week, Edelman explained that the reason for his infamous stumble after getting up to run following the hit was a hip injury — not a concussion.
“I remember the first one, bro,” Edelman said after jokingly being told that he did not remember Super Bowl XLIX. “I went through everything, the protocol, I went through all that stuff, bro. If you watch it, if you see a guy get dinged up, like a real [concussion], you see hands — like, you can’t control stuff. That hits the reset button. Like, I was still able to function after that.”
Edelman described the hit as being “a kiss” and admitted he was upset at how everybody assumed he had suffered a concussion.
“100 percent, because if people realize, like three plays before that on the punt return, I took a helmet off the hip,” Edelman said. “So when I was trying to get up [after the Chancellor hit], everyone thinks I’m like dying and I can’t get up, [but] I couldn’t move my hip. And then in the next couple of plays, a guy hits my hip again. I’m sitting there and my hip was like — when you get a hip pointer, bro, you can’t move anything. I was battling that.
“Football’s a real sport,” he added. “We went through all the protocols and all of that and I was fine, bro.”
Edelman’s comments should put to rest the diagnoses of armchair physicians across the country (and should provide vindication for those who knew it was a hip injury from the moment it happened). And the game footage backs up his story.
Here, he takes a hit from Jeron Johnson on the punt return prior to the Chancellor hit:
Three plays later, on third-and-14, Edelman took the hit from Chancellor. Though it was certainly a violent collision, it was not a helmet-to-helmet hit. It was a helmet-to-shoulder pad hit.
Because Chancellor didn’t have a ton of momentum for the hit (he didn’t get a running start, but rather stopped on a dime while running left and launched into Edelman on his right), Edelman was able to pop up from the hit and try to run up the field. That’s when he stumbled due to the hip injury, a misstep that led the world to believe he was concussed.
When he eventually dropped to the turf about 10 yards later, he took an extra second while on one knee before getting up:
That was the play that most people saw and concluded Edelman had been concussed and allowed to stay in the game. But not many people paid any attention to a snap four plays later, on another third down pass to Edelman, on which the hip clearly bothered Edelman after he was tackled inside the 5-yard line.
He tried to get up but stayed on the ground for an extra few seconds:
Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels made note of it, too, saying, “And Edelman, bothered by a hip early in the game against Indianapolis, slow in getting up.”
Indeed, Edelman did suffer a hip injury in the AFC Championship Game two weeks prior to the Super Bowl. It was well-publicized.
Edelman had also been dealing with hip ailments throughout the season.
So it was kind of clear at the time that what ailed him during the Super Bowl was just his hip biting on him, as he was clearly of sound enough mind to line up in the right spots for the rest of the game. He caught three passes for 33 yards and the game-winning touchdown after taking the Chancellor hit, and made a fair catch on a punt. He would have had another touchdown catch if Tom Brady hadn’t airmailed him on an end zone incompletion.
If Edelman had been concussed so badly that he was unable to put one leg in front of the other, it’s highly unlikely he would’ve been able to do any of those things.
Nevertheless, the perception that Edelman played through an obvious concussion has persisted. Now, it’s at least been clarified that Edelman was indeed playing through an injury, just not the one that so many people believed it to be.