A New Hampshire middle school girl got the surprise of a lifetime when Patriots star Julian Edelman gave her a pair of Super Bowl tickets after hearing about how she was bullied for playing football.
The New England wide receiver and staffers learned how Exeter seventh grader Dejah Rondeau was reportedly picked on by some classmates after she became her middle school varsity team's quarterback. That's when they decided to invite her to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, before the team left for Atlanta to encourage her to follow her dreams.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was the first one in on the surprise when the 13-year-old, who hopes to become the first female recipient of a football scholarship and play in the NFL, arrived at Gillette Stadium by taking her on a personal tour of the trophy room.
Then Rondeau got a surprise game of catch in with Edelman, her favorite player. In fact, she wears No. 11 — just like Edelman.
And that's when she got the tickets.
"I heard your story, about going out there and having the challenge of dealing with adversity because people not accepting this, that," Edelman told her in a video posted by the Patriots' media team. "My respect level for you is just through the roof because you ignored all the noise and played the game we all love. That's football."
"That was crazy," Rondeau said in the video, holding the pair of tickets. "I never thought that would happen. I'm just really excited to go."
The New England Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Super Bowl LIII at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the team's quest for its sixth Lombardi trophy.