INDIANAPOLIS — Gold jacket? Check. Bronze bust? Check. Induction ceremony? Check.
Edgerrin James and Peyton Manning have had a whirlwind last few weeks in their pursuit of football immortality, but they had one more goodie awaiting them on Sunday in Indianapolis.
At halftime of the Indianapolis Colts' Week 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, James and Manning received their Pro Football Hall of Fame rings, putting the cherry on top of two of the greatest careers in NFL history.
James and Manning received their rings from Colts owner Jim Irsay and David Baker, President and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"Now it comes full-circle," James told reporters in a press conference after the ceremony. "Because a lot of times you see the (Hall of Fame) guys, and every time you always see that big ring on their hand. So now we're actually officially one of the guys."
James and Manning were each inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month, although James was technically a Class of 2020 enshrinee, while Manning was selected to the Class of 2021 in his first year of eligibility. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed James' ceremony back one year, allowing the Pro Football Hall of Fame to host a celebration for both the 2020 and 2021 classes in one weekend.
Those ceremonies were special, Manning said today, but he really enjoyed getting a chance to share in the Hall of Fame celebration on Sunday with the fans that embraced both James and him from Day 1.
"The fact that it's here in Indianapolis, and the fact that Edgerrin and I get to kind of receive it together makes it really cool," Manning said. "And it certainly is special in August, but nothing quite like being in front of the stadium and the fans that you were drafted by, that we played here as rookies together, and played here for so long. So yeah, very special day."
James, the fourth-overall pick by the Colts in first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, made an immediate impact alongside Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison, as he earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and led the league in rushing yards his first two seasons, becoming just the third player since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to accomplish that feat.
Considered by Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy to be "probably the most complete back I've been around," James would go on to become the Colts' all-time leader in rushing yards (9,226), rushing touchdowns (64), rushing yards per game average (96.1), rushing yards in a single season (1,709 in 2000) and most seasons with 1,000 rushing yards (five).
James played seven seasons in Indy, and ended his career with four more seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2006-08) and the Seattle Seahawks (2009). A two-time First-Team All-Pro, two-time Second-Team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection, James currently stands at No. 13 on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list (12,246).
James also delivered on the big stage; he ranks third all-time in combined regular season and postseason rushing yards, trailing only Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett, two first-ballot Hall of Famers. James is also one of four players in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing yards in four or more seasons; the others on that list are Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson — again, all first-ballot Hall of Famers.
James, who was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s, was inducted into the Colts' Ring of Honor in 2012.
Manning was originally selected by Indianapolis with the first overall pick of the 1998 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. He was a member of the Colts' Super Bowl XLI victory and was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor in 2017. Manning's No. 18 jersey was the first number from the Indianapolis era to be retired by the team, joining Raymond Berry (No. 82), Art Donovan (No. 70), Gino Marchetti (No. 89), Lenny Moore (No. 24), Jim Parker (No. 77), John Unitas (No. 19) and Buddy Young (No. 22).
Manning spent 13 seasons (1998-2010) as the starting quarterback in Indianapolis and completed 4,682-of-7,210 passes for 54,828 yards with 399 touchdowns and 198 interceptions for a 94.9 quarterback rating. He guided the Colts to their second Super Bowl victory (Super Bowl XLI) in franchise history while reaching the championship game again following the 2009 regular season. Manning was selected to play in 11 Pro Bowls as a member of the Colts (1999-2000, 2002-2010), which is tied for a franchise-best with defensive tackle Gino Marchetti. In 2009, Manning became the NFL's first four-time Associated Press Most Valuable Player (2003-04, 2008-09).
He holds club seasonal and career records in completions, attempts and touchdowns and also holds the team record in career games started with 208. Manning led the team to a franchise-record 14 victories in 2005 and 2009 and helped lead the club to become the first in NFL history to win 11-plus and 12-plus games in seven consecutive seasons.
Over his 18-year career with Indianapolis (1998-2011) and the Denver Broncos (2012-15), Manning reset the National Football League record book. He ranks in the top five in league history in every major passing statistic, including attempts (9,380, fourth), completions (6,125, fourth), yards (71,940, third) and touchdowns (539, third). Manning is the only five-time Most Valuable Player and his 14 Pro Bowls are tied for the most in league history. Among numerous honors, he was named All-Pro 10 times (seven first-team, three second-team), AFC Offensive Player of the Week 27 times and AFC Offensive Player of the Month eight times.