EXCLUSIVE: Retiring after a 12-season career with the New England Patriots in which he was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams and was chosen MVP of Super Bowl LIII, wide receiver Julian Edelman has caught a second act. He and his Coast Productions partner Assaf Swissa have made an overall deal at ViacomCBS. As part of that, Edelman will joining the Inside The NFL team as an analyst. That starts this fall, when the Emmy-winning series makes its debut on Paramount+.
Edelman will join James Brown, Phil Simms and Brandon Marshall each week, and the show continues to feature contributions from HOFers Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis through the season.
To Edelman, a big part of the multi-year first look with ViacomCBS is an opportunity to develop scripted and unscripted programming for divisions from Paramount+ to Nickelodeon. He will participate behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
While he was a clutch receiver for the Pats, Edelman made humorous popular viral videos with his teammates under the Coast banner, and that led to his first association with ViacomCBS with the Showtime documentary 100%: Julian Edelman. The film was a warts-and-all chronicle about Edelman’s recovery from a devastating knee injury that shelved him in 2017, and coming back from that and a PED suspension that cost him the first four games of 2019 and straining his relationship with his father, an invaluable ally in his NFL rise. That season ended in triumph, with Edelman winning Super Bowl MVP honors for catching 10 passes that helped fuel the Pats to a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. The relationship Edelman and Swissa built with Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza and David Nevins led to the new deal.
Edelman told Deadline that he is still rehabbing the injuries he collected from over a decade of catching Tom Brady passes across the middle of the field, but the charismatic now ex-jock sparked to the chance to prove himself in another competitive arena.
“I’ve always been a fan of Inside the NFL, and the different way they have shown football, from the cinematography to the slow highlights, and the all-star cast they’ve had,” he said. “It’ll just be fun to share what’s on my mind, but those guys have been in the TV world for over a decade. That’s a whole lot of nerves, like back when I got drafted in the seventh round by New England, and I was a quarterback from a small school who never played receiver. I have to make this team, and prove what I can do. That’s the mind-set I have, nervous but excited.”
Edelman said he was overjoyed to see his former teammates Brady and Rob Gronkowski hoist the Super Bowl trophy without him, and said he hopes they do it again.
“I already miss football, and will miss it more around April when you get back in the facility and kick it with the fellas in the locker room and the gym, bonding and creating that synergy with a team that competes at the highest level,” he said. “But I gave everything I had, and physically I can’t do it no more. I still have to do things to keep my body feeling good. Body movement, yoga, working out, because I’ve had these millimeters of biomechanics that changed because of all the injuries. I have to work hard to keep it in synch. I’m still rehabbing certain things, but my head feels great, and when you play 12 years in the NFL and come away feeling that way, it’s number one. I feel blessed, and to be able to use the platform and success I’ve had on the football field to help me translate into my next career and rest of my life. That starts with this collaboration with Viacom, Paramount+, Showtime and the other divisions of the company.”
ViacomCBS’ sports chiefs were excited to welcome Edelman to the fold.
“We witnessed the creativity that Julian and his team put behind 100%: Julian Edelman, and we admired their ability to combine Julian’s unique voice with powerful, authentic storytelling,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Showtime Sports. “We are thrilled to welcome Julian to our team and embrace that voice as he becomes a dynamic force for us every Tuesday on Inside The NFL. We are equally excited to continue our relationship with Coast Productions and explore additional content produced with their contagious creative energy.”
Said CBS Sport chairman Sean McManus: “Julian has been one of the greatest competitors and clutch performers in the NFL over the past decade, and we are excited to welcome him to Inside The NFL. “He will provide our viewers a fresh perspective and valuable insight having just stepped off the field. With his incredible career accomplishments, combined with his dedication, passion, and knowledge, we are looking forward to Julian joining our team.”
Edelman is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Fred Toczek.