Interview: Pro Bowler Tells His Story – Brad Edelman

Julian is not the only Edelman for Jewish football fans. Far before they Patriots WR there was the Saints’ Brad Edelman. His career might not have included Super Bowl rings, but it saw eight productive season including one Pro-Bowl appearance (1987) and being the 30th pick in the NFL draft. Today, this Edelman is still in New Orleans but far from the football field.

BE - Football Card copy

1) When did you know the NFL was in your future?
The NFL was not even a consideration until my Junior year at the University of Missouri. Our trainer’s and coaches began mentioning that NFL scouts. who were watching the seniors, had commented on my ability and suggested that, if I continued to improve, I might have a chance to play in the NFL. Later, based on correspondence from teams as well as scouting and media reports, it seemed likely that I would have an NFL opportunity. However, I did not truly know that the NFL was in my future until I heard my name announced when drafted by Bum Phillips and the New Orleans Saints.

2) You played your entire career with one team. Did that mean more to you? How do you feel about players jumping from team to team?
Without the luxury of having experienced both scenarios and given all of the variables, it is impossible determine which experience might ultimately have been more meaningful. However, there was and continues to be great personal meaning in having been part of a core of teammates evolving together over many years. Equally gratifying was the opportunity to have played my entire career in the great city of New Orleans, during an era when fans, community and players shared a more intimate relationship, typically over a longer period of time than today.

I’m a proponent of free agency. I joined many of my teammates in striking twice during my career for, among other benefits, the players right to offer his talent to another team. Although player movement may have altered fan/player relationships and the culture of the game, it seems to make sense in our economy. The players ability to move and the team’s ability to access players also seems to contribute to a type of parody that did not previously exist throughout the League.

3) Making the Pro Bowl in 1987. What was that experience like?
The honor was totally unexpected, as it was a strike year and, in my opinion, not my finest season. It’s likely that our winning season, first ever playoff berth and additional exposure played a role that year. In any event, it was a highlight in my career. I felt that the honor represented my play over many years. I was thankful and enjoyed every minute of the Hawaiian sun, sand and surf, the entertainment, the camaraderie and mostly, the game itself; pure fun. Although not played at the tempo of a regular season game, it was played more intensely than it is today. I felt liberated, played well and had a blast. My brother accompanied me on the trip which made it even more fun and meaningful.

4) What led to you hanging up your cleats at an early age?
Injuries, plain and simple. I would likely have played longer had I been capable of doing so.

5) Have you always been passionate about photography?
As a kid, I harbored a casual interest in photography, but couldn’t afford a camera, didn’t have a mentor and was more passionate about and involved in music and sports. Toward the end of my NFL career, I became infatuated with photography and began shooting recreationally. Following my career with the Saints and prior to photography becoming my profession, I started the Brad Edelman band, continued TV sports broadcasting, public speaking and acting in theater, commercials and television. Then, on the heels of a move from New Orleans to Venice Beach, California, I immersed myself in the art and technology of photography. I was captivated by California’s natural beauty, the colorful people and the textured urban environments all inspiring me to evolve behind the camera. Photography soon blossomed into my dominant art form and business prior to returning to the visual and cultural mecca of New Orleans. Today, I maintain a robust interest in photography, although I no longer shoot commercially due, in large part, to injuries sustained on the gridiron.

6) What do you do today? Are there similarities to football?
These days, above all, I am necessarily committed to maintaining my physical and mental health. Due to my many injuries and concussions, I have augmented my lifestyle to accommodate daily rehabilitation, exercise, stretching, nutrition management, pain mitigation, etc… devoting the remainder of my time to my passion for my family and friends, music, photography and sculpting. I continue to photograph creatively and I am forever organizing my extensive archive while assessing its artistic, documentative and commercial merit.

Similarities to the game of football have always been present in my personal, creative and professional pursuits. Among the many demands of football, I found that discipline, teamwork, preparation, passion, risk assessment, communication, loyalty, focus and a competitive spirit were essential elements. Sports, in general, helped develop my ability to harness various combinations of these qualities throughout my life when necessary. The experience remains indispensable.

7) Looking back at your NFL career. Any regrets?
Regrets? Not really, except maybe for the injuries and concussions. Otherwise, I’ve always felt as though I left everything I had to offer on the field and played until I couldn’t play anymore. Overall, my NFL career remains an extraordinary part of my journey. It also contributed to a multitude of off-the-field opportunities and many fulfilling relationships.

8) What was your Jewish life like growing up and how do you connect today?
My immediate family practiced Reform Judaism. I went to Sunday school, got confirmed. Did not have a Bar Mitzvah, went to temple mostly on the High Holidays and attended Camp Sabra as a teenager for a couple of summers in the Ozarks of Missouri. Our family was close knit and celebrated Judaism. As a young man, I learned to appreciate, respect and admire the tenets and traditions of Judaism. Today, after studying many religions, I appreciate the tenets common to all religions and pursue a personal spiritual path.

9) Where can fans find your photography or connect with you?
My website is www.bradedelman.com. Viewers will find several categories of images and may leave a message.

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