Edgerrin James joined football immortality on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio, taking his place among the greats of the game and officially gaining induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ed Reed and Edgerrin James, former Miami stars, never fail to throw up the U pic.twitter.com/RDe4vx9KwU
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) August 7, 2021
James played for three teams during his 11-year NFL career, but he will forever be remembered as a standout running back on the Peyton Manning-helmed Indianapolis Colts. His time in the league was not without chatter, however, and on Saturday during his induction speech he made sure to speak out about the perception many had of James throughout his career in football.
“Look at my pro football hall of fame bust. Rocking the same dreds they said I shouldn’t.” – Edgerrin James
This was SO GOOD. pic.twitter.com/EkTPjMDzeA
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 7, 2021
“So many people told me that you can’t have dreads and gold teeth and be accepted in the NFL,’ he said. “But I didn’t listen.”
Speaking to close his speech, he advocated for taking a moment to not judge people on their appearance, referencing past comments about his style or speech patterns and harmful stereotypes that bothered him throughout his career.
from Edgerrin James to close his HoF speech pic.twitter.com/5WKQciGhLT
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) August 7, 2021
“To all those who have been judged prematurely because of their appearance, the way they speak, where they come from and in the minds of many feel they should be locked up in prison,” James said. “I represent us.”
James then ended with a hell of a punctuation on a speech a long time in the making.
“I’m forever immortalized. Locked up in the Canton Correctional Institution,” James said. “Inmate number three three six in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
The line got a huge cheer, with a number of people standing up for an ovation that he followed with another killer one-liner.
“My career started with gold teeth and ended with this gold jacket,” James said to another huge cheer in Canton.
It’s a good reminder that the people sports pundits make their money criticizing will remember those hot takes long after they stop playing. And on Saturday, James certainly had the last laugh in response to those who had baselessly criticized his appearance and style during his career.