Julian Edelman was in jovial mood as the Super Bowl MVP recounted an anecdote about Bill Belichick from back in 2009 that gave him an insight into the winning culture at the New England Patriots.
Edelman faced the media the morning after the Pats' 13-3 triumph over the Los Angeles Rams, which sealed the franchise's sixth Super Bowl crown.
The 32-year-old told reporters how, as a rookie wide receiver, he saw coach Belichick watching game film while walking on a treadmill late at night.
"Coach, you sure like football, huh?" Edelman said he asked Belichick. "He said, 'It beats being a plumber. See you tomorrow.'
"At the time, he was a three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach. You see guys do that and it's going to rub off."
Belichick joked later in the media conference that Edelman misquoted him.
"I have a tonne of respect for plumbers," said Belichick. "Those people do a great job. I think I said, 'It beats working.'"
Whatever Belichick said, the incident made an impression on Edelman, who on Sunday caught 10 passes for 141 yards in the Patriots' low-scoring success in Atlanta.
He also noted that NFL legend Tom Brady said he was "proud" of him.
"That was big," said Edelman. "He's been an unbelievable guy to learn from, as a football player, as a professional, as a family man. The guy is all in. That trickles down when you see leaders of your team do that."
Edelman's MVP trophy was perhaps an unexpected finale to a season that began with him serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy. He also missed the entire 2017 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
While Edelman conceded he had not yet had time to absorb that significance of his achievement, he is looking forward to getting some time to reflect on it.
"I haven't really sat back to think about it," he said. "I've been kind of trained, being in New England, to always look what's on your plate at the time.
When you get hurt, competing against yourself each day to try to get your knee better, you're not really thinking about those types of things.
"Maybe in the next couple of weeks I'll be able to sit back and think about that, but by then [next season] will be starting up."