In some non-Raiders related NFL news, long time Patriots receiver Julian Edelman announced his retirement on Monday. The discussion quickly became about whether his career was worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. While he had a good career, many had better ones including Raider great Cliff Branch.
A lopsided comparison
Over the course of their respective careers, Branch and Edelman’s career numbers stack up like so:
Cliff Branch: 501 receptions, 8,685 yards, 67 touchdowns, three Super Bowl wins, four Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro teams
Julian Edelman: 620 receptions, 6,822 yards, 36 touchdowns and three Super Bowls
While Branch has better numbers in almost every category, it is stunning to see Edelman not make a single Pro Bowl or All-Pro team. They also have the same amount of Super Bowl wins which, despite being a team accomplishment, is a big deal when discussing the Hall of Fame. What makes Branch’s numbers with the Raiders more impressive is the time frame which he did it. Playing from 1972-85, he did not get the benefit of playing in the pass happy offenses we see today. Despite this he not only racked up more yards and touchdowns than Edelman, he did so on less catches.
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The biggest argument for Cliff Branch to be in the Hall of Fame is the undeniable fact that he helped change football forever. The original deep threat in the NFL, “21” would terrorize defenses with his game breaking speed and playmaking ability. Edelman simply did not have this affect on football as a whole. While Cliff Branch is not the greatest receiver ever by any means, he played a large part in changing the entire concept of offensive football.
A bewildering story line
The fact that Cliff Branch is not already a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is mind blowing. The fact that people think Julian Edelman should be in is even crazier. While yes, Edelman had a fun career to watch as a quarterback turned wide receiver, he was never considered to be one of the best WR’s in the league. He simply was lucky enough to have played on winning teams while being great friends with the greatest signal-caller of all time. Cliff Branch has better statistical production, more Pro Bowls, more All-Pro selections and the same amount of Super Bowls. Branch should be a Hall of Famer and it is a shame he was not inducted while he was still alive.
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*TOP PHOTO: AP