Former Patriots players respond to Shannon Sharpe’s assertion that Julian Edelman is a ‘dirty player’

And then things got personal.

Julian Edelman leaves the field after last Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills in Foxborough. Elise Amendola / AP

A few former members of the New England Patriots are coming to Julian Edelman’s defense, after Shannon Sharpe asserted that the wide receiver is a “dirty player.”

Edelman was fined a total of $63,504 this weekend for three separate incidents during last Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, which was the second-most a player was been docked by the NFL for on-field incidents during a single game this season.

The three fines were one unnecessary roughness penalty — when Edelman blocked a Bills player after signaling for a fair catch (which he also did during Week 8 against Buffalo) and two uncalled crackback blocks.


Sharpe, a Hall of Fame tight end-turned-FS1 commentator, tweeted Saturday night that the fines were the latest evidence that Edelman is a “dirty player,” but that he hasn’t been labeled as such because of his race.

“Being small and white gets you labeled gritty, hard nosed, tough,” Sharpe wrote. “No he’s dirty.”

The former Denver Bronco went on to compare Edelman’s reputation to other black NFL players who have been called dirty, such as Ndamukong Suh, Vontaze Burfict, and Hines Ward.

Donté Stallworth, a retired NFL wide receiver who played a little more than a season for the Patriots, responded that he agreed there was something of a double standard in how black and white players are generally perceived, but said he disagreed with the claim Edelman was dirty.

Stallworth said the Edelman was just a “rare” wide receiver who is “not afraid to mix it up with” defensive players.

“A dirty player, in *my definition, is someone who intentionally tries to hurt/injure other players,” he said. “That is not Julian.”

Sharpe said that Edelman’s repeated crackback blocks suggested otherwise. However, Stallworth posted video of one of the blocks for which Edelman was fined, questioning whether it really merited a fine.


Sharpe’s comments also caught the attention of Matt Chatham, a former Patriots linebacker and special teams player, who now works for The Athletic and 98.5 The Sports Hub. In his defense of Edelman’s style of play, Chatham tweaked Sharpe for not seeking contact, at which point the argument between the two former opponents quickly got personal.

“You caught a ton of balls, but shied away from contact,” he tweeted at Sharpe. “You wouldn’t understand. That you’d resort to weak, terrible analysis… very understandable.”

In response, Sharpe called Chatham a “JAG” (just a guy) and told him to “sit this one out.”

“Just a special teams LB that you wanted no part of on the [field]” Chatham replied, recalling a meeting between the two players in a game, in which Sharpe “screamed to the ref for help throughout the drive.”

However, Sharpe appeared to get in the last word, noting that he “graduated from special teams.”