INDIANAPOLIS – There’s one last piece of business to handle in the journeys of Edgerrin James and Peyton Manning to Canton, Ohio, but it won’t be all business this weekend.
James has never met an occasion that didn’t serve dual purposes.
Yes, he and Manning return to the city that served as the starting point for NFL careers that ended with bronze busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They’ll receive their commemorative Hall of Fame rings from Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker at halftime of the Indianapolis Colts’ Sunday meeting with the Los Angeles Rams.
That’s the business side. It’s an opportunity for James and Manning to once again reconnect with the Colts’ fan base, a good portion of which was unable to attend the induction ceremonies Aug. 7-8 in Canton when James was enshrined as a member of the Class of 2020 and Manning headlined the Class of 2021.
“That’s the cool thing about it,’’ James said. “I get a chance to come up there to Indy and share it with the people who didn’t get a chance to take part in it (in Canton). They get a chance with me and P in the building at the same time again.
“It’s always cool to come back. Indy has always been good to me. It’s always been a good vibe. And now I get to come up there and just chill out, relax and kind of reflect. I can sit there and think, ‘I remember this. I remember that.’’’
But again, James always is about maximizing the moment.
He’ll embrace his time with Manning and any former teammates who’ll be on hand – you can reserve a seat for Reggie Wayne – and share more than a few hugs with owner Jim Irsay, who presented James for enshrinement.
But James also will share the moment with sons Eden, Edgerrin Jr. (Jizzle) and Euro.
“Yeah, they go where I go,’’ James said with a soft chuckle. “When I go, the crew comes with me. I’ve got three daughters in college or they would have come, too.’’
Irsay will send his private jet to South Florida for James and a dozen members of his “crew.’’
“We’re 13 deep, me and my boys. My boys and my boys,’’ James said. “I’m bringing my friends. We’re treating it right.
“It’s like a guys’ trip. I need to roll with some of my partners, and my boys get a chance to be around that. They get a chance to see how we kick it. We’ll have a good 24 or 30 hours in Indy. We’re gonna have a good time.
“I’m always looking how we can max out an opportunity and have fun and enjoy it the right way. We’re going to hang out in Indy. We’re going to do what we do.’’
James balanced family and football until retiring after the 2009 season and has prioritized his six children – the three boys and daughters Quisha, Eyanna and Ehami – post NFL.
Eden, 17 and the oldest son, is following in his father’s footsteps.
“He’s the football player,’’ James said.
Eden is a senior running back – of course – at Treasure Coast H.S. in Port St. Lucie. He opened with a 267-yard, two-touchdown game as the Titans whipped nationally-ranked Plantation-American Heritage 29-21 in their opener and added three first-half touchdown runs of 17, 12 and 58 yards and over 100 yards in Monday’s 56-0 rout of Hollywood-Surge Academy.
Eden has completed his academics at Treasure Coast with a 3.6 or 3.7 GPA, according to James, and the plan is for him to decide on a college in the next month and be enrolled in January.
The 16-year old Jizzle attends Olympia H.S. in Orlando and is headed in another direction.
“He’s my basketball player,’’ James said. “He is going to be legit.’’
Jizzle just recently received an offer from Georgetown.
And the 14-year old Euro? He isn’t channeling energy into sports.
“Nah, Euro is the ultimate life,’’ James said.
Athletic or non-athletic interests aside, father is committed to sharing his athletic background with his sons.
Check out Manning at sporting events and you’re likely to see 10-year old twins Marshall and Mosley at his side. That’s how Archie Manning was with sons Peyton, Cooper and Eli. It was important to have them around.
With James, his sons only know of dad’s early NFL exploits from what he told them, from when they’ve accompanied him to Indy for a former teammate’s Ring of Honor ceremony or from watching YouTube clips.
“They didn’t really experience it,’’ he said.
That’s why this weekend figures to be another invaluable road trip. Eden has a football game Friday, then the James’ crew is Indy-bound.
“Saturday we’re all on a plane and we’re coming up,’’ he said. “It’s cool to bring your boys and let them experience it and see all of the stuff I did. They’re into the NFL, so it’s pretty cool when they can walk on the field and suck up the atmosphere and think about the dreams they aspire to.”
About that Hall of Fame Chevy
One thing will be missing at Sunday’s ceremony. James had hoped to have the 1975 Chevy Caprice he had customized for his Hall of Fame induction parade shipped to Indy for the weekend, but there’s still some work being done on it.
“I wanted the people in Indy to get a chance to see it,’’ he said. “It would have been pretty cool to roll out in that car in the middle of the football field, right?
“But I’ve got some more stuff I want to do with it. I want to make it right.’’
Instead, Nakia Lambright of Masters of Body in South Florida must finalize whatever James deems necessary. It must be “tightened up’’ before James accepts an offer to purchase the Hall of Fame-themed Chevy.
He’s expecting a hefty return.
“You’ve gotta get six figures easy because of the fact it cost so much (to customize),’’ James said. “The rims are $20,000. Everything in there is real.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.