ATLANTA — As a cab whisked me from Hartsfield–Jackson Airport to my downtown hotel Sunday night, I did a double take thinking I’d seen Julian Edelman strolling on a sidewalk as we whipped past.
What would one of the New England Patriots’ biggest stars be doing by himself … on the streets of Atlanta … at night … after he himself had just arrived with the rest of his team earlier in the day? And short white guys sporting bushy beards and non-descript hoodies are probably a dime a dozen on a cool winter evening.
Welp, turns out it was Edelman. And even though Falcons fans may not hold the star slot receiver in high esteem — his shoestring catch off a deflected pass was one of the key plays that fueled New England’s epic comeback against Atlanta in Super Bowl LI — Edelman has quickly formed an affinity for the town serving as his home for the week leading up to Super Bowl LIII.
“I did go on a little adventure,” Edelman told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday with a laugh.
“I just went on a walk. I was like a block away from where MLK was born, and I just wanted to kinda see it. No one was really in for the Super Bowl yet. … It was cool to see the little restaurants and joints — soulful looking stuff — it just seemed cool, and I wanted to go check it out.”
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Edelman perused the city’s Historic Fourth Ward and another spot he admitted “was kind of sketch.”
He was never recognized and even got treated to a spontaneous tour from a stranger.
“I ended up walking with this guy for 30 minutes who didn’t know who I was,” Edelman chuckled.
“It was cool, I enjoyed it.”
The Patriots have only played in the ATL once in Edelman’s 10-year career, a win in 2013 when he had seven grabs for 118 yards but no opportunity to paint the town red.
“All my friends say it’s a cool town,” said Edelman, who’s never come to Atlanta on a non-football trip.
“Getting to see it, it seems pretty live. I would like to check it out.”
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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