Julian Edelman makes a 23 yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Superbowl. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Julian Edelman made one of the craziest catches in Super Bowl history

“I don’t know how he caught it. I don’t think he does either.”

That’s New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Jewish teammate Julian Edelman’s physics-defying catch during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI on Sunday night won by the Pats in overtime, 34-28.

The catch, which Edelman somehow secured between multiple defenders after the ball was tipped in the air, was a crucial part of a historic comeback. New England trailed 28-3 in the third quarter before scoring 31 unanswered points on the way to its thrilling victory — the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.

In typical goofy form, Edelman said Brady exaggerated his praise for the catch because the two have a “bromance.”

The Patriots’ Julian Edelman’s Jewish ties

During the Super Bowl Sunday night, many Jews across the country no doubt had the same question: Is Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman Jewish?

Edelman had an excellent game Sunday night, catching nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in New England’s dramatic comeback victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He also happens to have a Jewish-sounding name.

But is he actually a member of the tribe?

While his father has Ashkenazi roots, this is what Edelman had to say on the topic on a media day before his previous Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots in 2012:

“Well, I’m not completely Jewish, if you know what I mean. I know people want me to be. My father is Jewish. My mother isn’t. I’ve been asked this before. I guess you could say I’m kind of Jewish but not really.”

For the record, while traditional Jews believe one must have a Jewish mother or convert in order to be considered Jewish, both Reform and Reconstructionist Jews recognize patrilineal descent.

In an interview with the NFL Network last season, Edelman asserted more clearly that he is in fact Jewish. When asked for some “good Christmas answers” to questions from one broadcaster, Edelman said, “Well, I’m Jewish, but I’ll try to keep it to Hanukkah presents even though Hanukkah’s over.”

Here are a few facts about the Patriots’ Jewish (or not) star receiver:

He played quarterback in college.

Before shifting to wide receiver in the pros, Edelman was a quarterback for a year at the College of San Mateo in California and three years at Kent State. During his senior year at the Ohio school, he also led the Golden Flashes in rushing yards. No word on whether he also showed up at the campus Hillel.

He was not expected to do well in the pros.

Scouting reports from 2009, the year Edelman entered the NFL draft, called him too small and said he would not be a high-impact player. Edelman was not even invited to participate in the NFL Combine, a show of physical tests for professional scouts. He was drafted in the seventh and final round.

His father (not exactly your stereotypical American Jewish dad) became an auto mechanic at age 14 but pushed him to succeed.

After his Super Bowl win Sunday night, Edelman told reporters:

“My dad was just a little trailer trash white dude that worked his tail off, didn’t have a dad. He started working at 14, didn’t get to play sports. He dedicated his life to his kids to let us live our dreams. I love my dad.”

ESPN ‘s Jackie MacMullan expanded on the influence of Edelman’s father, who pushed the future star to tears while training him.

His teammates nicknamed him “squirrel.”

Not much to explain here except that Edelman is noted for his constant hustle and energy.

It is worth pointing out that Edelman is not even the most Jewish player on the Patriots — backup safety Nate Ebner’s father was a Sunday school principal at Temple Shalom in Springfield, Ohio. In addition, team owner Robert Kraft is Jewish and, a week before the Super Bowl, spoke at an event honoring the rabbi of a Brookline, Mass., synagogue. (Kraft’s speech starts at 28:00.)

Who knows? Maybe Tom Brady’s menorah will inspire Edelman to become more involved with his Jewish side.

Bob Kraft: New England Patriots’ Jewish owner

When the National Football League lockout ended this past August, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday praised Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots stating, “Without him, this deal does not get done, he is a man who helped us save football.” Now just six short months later, it is Kraft’s New England Patriots who are at the top of the very game he saved and set to take on the New York Giants February 5th in Super Bowl XLVI (46).

In professional sports many things change from year to year. Coaches, players and front office personnel come and go. However, in New England since 1994 there has always been one constant, team owners Robert (Bob) and Myra Kraft. As the Patriots head to Indianapolis for their sixth Super Bowl during his ownership, Bob Kraft goes with a heavy heart. Prior to the season Kraft was not only battling the players in a labor dispute, he was also holding onto his wife of Myra Kraft who was battling cancer, a disease that eventually took her life in July.

The passing of Myra Kraft seems to have been a rallying call for the Patriots organization from top to bottom.  All of the players wear a patch with the initials MHK on their uniforms. After his second quarter touchdown scored in Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Patriots running back, touched the MHK patch, then his face mask and then pointed upward, a tribute to Mrs. Kraft. “She was always around,” Green-Ellis said. “She was a nice lady. She built this foundation from the ground up. She taught me about giving back to the community. Anytime I get a chance now, I want to go and give back to the children in this area and helping in the community.”

After punching their ticket to the Super Bowl, the Patriots with a 23-20 win over the Ravens; Mr. Kraft took to the podium set up in Gillette Stadium to receive the Lamar Hunt Trophy that is presented to the American Football Conference (AFC) Champion.  Upon receiving the trophy, Kraft took a moment to kiss his fingers and point to the sky in tribute to Myra. He said, “It was so I wouldn’t have to speak and start crying on national television.” Later in a post-game interview, Kraft said, “[There were] forces at work that’s beyond anything we can understand.” He added, “There are so many little things that happen during the year, when you think about it, just the little things that can go the other way. I’m so excited that we’re going to the big game. I still pinch myself thinking about it and I think of my sweetheart.”

The 48-year marriage between Robert and Myra Kraft has been one of philanthropy and tzedakah that crosses continents and has touched the lives of many on and off the football field.  The Krafts, who are Jewish and belong to Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., started the Passport to Israel Program with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. The program began as a unique savings plan to help parents send their children on an Israel experience during their teens. In addition, Bob Kraft has donated millions of dollars to start the Israel Football League and build Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. At the same time, Myra Kraft helped to support and fund the Israeli Women’s National Flag Football Team. Together the couple donated more than $100 million dollars to a variety of charities focusing on education, athletics, women’s issues and Israel. In 2007 Bob Kraft donated $5 million to his alma mater Columbia University in support of their athletics programs, the playing field at Columbia’s Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at the Baker Field Athletics Complex was named “Robert K. Kraft Field.”

While Kraft has a stadium in his name at Columbia University and in Israel, it will be in Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium that he will find out how the next chapter of the New England Patriots and the Kraft ownership will be written.  Win or lose, Bob Kraft is certain to handle the results with class and with Myra on his mind and in his heart.