CANTON, Ohio – They were in the crowd as their former teammate and coach were immortalized Saturday evening at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday, Tarik Glenn, Adam Meadows, Marcus Pollard, Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, Justin Snow, David Thornton, Gary Brackett and so many others.
Robert Mathis and Adam Vinatieri, who had a game to play the following day, drove down from the Indianapolis Colts’ team hotel in Cleveland.
And most were there a few hours later as owner Jim Irsay, clearly emotional and appreciative of the franchise-altering contributions of Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy, tossed a celebratory bash.
“That’s Mr. Irsay,’’ James said.
As family, friends and admirers continued to stream into a party tent at Glenmoor Country Club, Irsay took to the stage and grabbed the microphone.
He talked of Colts past and the greatness of the Baltimore era that sent, among others, Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore and John Mackey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And Irsay talked of the Indianapolis Colts forging their own identity since their relocation in 1984. He talked of these Colts building their own greatness.
Harrison is the first (ITALICS) exclusive (END ITALICS) Indianapolis Colts to be enshrined. He won’t be the last.
For as much as Saturday evening was about Harrison and Dungy and their membership in the Class of 2016, it also highlighted the kinship that has been nurtured through the years.
Manning spoke prior to Harrison’s surprisingly-reflective enshrinement speech – it lasted about 11 minutes – and described a special environment.
“I’m not sure there’s a stronger word than special to be back and to have two guys that have been a part of your football life,’’ he said. “I know I speak for a bunch of guys, the lives that Tony and Marvin both impacted, and to be here is just an honor.
“It’s been fun these past six months reflecting on the impact these guys had on me. It’s really a great night in Colts history.’’
Along with being a master motivator and poised leader, Dungy was so much more to his players and those throughout the Colts organization.
Listen to this snippet from Harrison’s speech directed at his former coach: “I could sit up here for 10, 15 minutes and tell you about how important it was to have you as my coach and talk about football.
“But what you brought to our team and to me was more important than anything. You told us how to be teammates. You told us how to be men. But the most important thing is you told us about fatherhood.’’
As Harrison moved from one end of the post-enshrinement party to the other, his sons – Marvin Jr. and Jett – never were too far away.
In virtually every corner, former Colts huddled.
Manning and Saturday, his long-time center.
Wayne and James, two products of ‘The U,’ sat at a table, smiling and reminiscing.
Brandon Stokley and Aaron Moorehead, who spent so much time in the receivers room with Harrison.
There was a collection of tight ends: Clark, Pollard, Ben Utecht.
The night belonged to Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy. But make no mistake, it was a shared venture.