New England Patriots star Julian Edelman announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, bringing the curtain down on a career that spanned 12 seasons and included three Super Bowl victories.
The 34-year-old receiver, named MVP in the Patriots most recent Super Bowl victory in 2019, confirmed his retirement after his contract was terminated due to a failed physical.
"I've always said I'm going until the wheels come off, and they've finally fallen off," Edelman said in a recorded video posted on Twitter that showed him sitting on the Patriots Gillette Stadium field at Foxboro.
"Due to an injury last year, I'll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football. It's been the best 12 years of my life. It's been a hell of a run."
Edelman's former Patriots teammate and close friend Tom Brady led the tributes to the retiring receiver.
"On the biggest stage and in the biggest moments, you always came through," the seven-time Super Bowl champion wrote on Twitter.
"You never lost that chip on your shoulder and you never let anyone define you as a person or player. I’m proud of you, Jules. Love you," Brady added.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick saluted Edelman as the "ultimate competitor."
"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career -- wins, championships, production -- Julian has it all," Belichick said.
- 'Throwback player' -
"Few players can match Julian's achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select.
"This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel," Belichick said.
The Patriots drafted Edelman in 2009 with the 232nd overall pick, and he would go on to become a key part of the team's success during the last decade, winning Super Bowls in 2015, 2017 and 2019.
A ferocious competitor, Edelman had a knack of making big plays in high-pressure situations.
In the 2017 Super Bowl, he made a logic-defying fourth-quarter catch that helped the Patriots complete a comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons after the team had trailed 28-3.
His career suffered a setback later that year when a torn cruciate ligament in preseason ruled him out of the 2017-2018 campaign.
In 2018, his comeback from injury was shrouded in controversy after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, leading to a four-game ban at the start of the season.
However, his season ended in triumph with a third Super Bowl win and MVP award after Edelman made 10 catches for 141 yards in a hard-fought 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
He is one of only seven wide receivers to win Super Bowl MVP honors.
"Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out," Belichick said Monday.
"In the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances.
"He was the quintessential throwback player. He could, and did, do everything -- catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle -- all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance," Belichick said.
"Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him."