Edgerrin James

Pro football Hall of Famer, Class of 2020. Former running back for the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. Entrepreneur.

Athletes and entertainers face unique wealth management opportunities, considerations and challenges. The athletes and entertainers we interviewed shared their personal stories and perspectives to highlight the need for more financial education in the sports and entertainment world. We thank them for being strong advocates of financial literacy.

Edgerrin’s advice

“Don’t do anything or put your money into an investment until you educate yourself. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you know how to invest. Ask a lot of questions.

You don’t need a degree in finance to get started. Make small moves and don’t rush.”

Football as the way out

Edgerrin grew up in Immokalee, a South Florida town near the Everglades gripped by hardship and poverty. Football wasn’t merely a game—it was one of the few paths out. His mother, Julie, was a single parent who worked at the local high school cafeteria. Edgerrin spent summers harvesting 30-pound watermelons, 12-hour days of backbreaking work in 110-degree heat. His talent for football was evident early on. Waking up at five in the morning to fit in extra workouts before practice, Edgerrin’s unrelenting work ethic paid off on the field. He caught the eye of college football recruiters, earning a full scholarship to the University of Miami in 1996.

A No. 4 NFL draft pick

Edgerrin became one of the most celebrated running backs in Hurricanes history and was inducted into the University of Miami’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. He is the only Hurricane running back to post consecutive 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, and ranks second in the school’s history with 2,960 rushing yards. He tied the school record of 35 touchdowns. After his junior year, Edgerrin declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. In a surprising move, the Indianapolis Colts selected Edgerrin as the No. 4 pick overall in the 1999 NFL draft. At the time, the Colts were criticized for trading their starting running back Marshall Faulk and passing up Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams in favor of Edgerrin.

I took a business approach from day one of my football career. Everything I did, I had an end goal in mind. I played the game of football both because I loved it and because it helped take me out of poverty.

The $49 million rookie contract

Edgerrin’s contract negotiations with the Indianapolis Colts ended after a 20-day holdout, when he signed a seven-year contract valued at $49 million, a staggering amount for a rookie running back. “I didn’t use an agent initially. I went with my own approach. I used the leverage that I had, knowing I was in the first round and could get drafted without an agent.” He also knew that the Colts needed a running back to complement quarterback Peyton Manning. His advisers, dubbed “Team Edgerrin,” included his brother Ed German, a medical student, and two college friends, Tyrone Williams and Pierre Rutledge, a lawyer and a lobbyist respectively. Since a deal couldn’t be signed without representation from a certified agent, Edgerrin hired an agent near the end of the process, negotiating down the standard agent fee.

A prolific NFL run

Edgerrin silenced dubious Colts fans by rushing for more than 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 1999. He tore his ACL during his third season, an injury that generally takes at least a year to recover from. The Colts missed the playoffs that year, but Edgerrin returned after only nine months off. Over the course of his seven seasons with the Colts, he set the record for the most rushing yards in team history with 9,226 yards and was named to the Colts Ring of Honor. The Colts won Super Bowl XLI in 2007, the year after he left the team as an unrestricted free agent. Nonetheless, owner Jim Irsay sent Edgerrin a Super Bowl ring in recognition of his contributions to the franchise. Peyton Manning describes Edgerrin as “the best teammate I’ve ever played with, because he is so unselfish.”

Start here

Together, we can help establish the legacy you want to leave.

Browse more profiles