The thought occurred to me today that Edgerrin James is a lot more like Kurt Warner than anyone really imagines.
OK, Kurt's got the big nuclear family and goes to church while Edge lives with teammate Terrelle Smith and goes to, uh, places that are kind of the opposite of church. But here's the thing: Warner spends his time and money on needy people, going through his First Things First Foundation.
Edge isn't always that methodical, but he also helps the needy – many of which are in his family and from his poor hometown of Immokalee, Fla. Edge has always had a side that has stayed mostly hidden from the world – he told me in 2006 he wasn’t a “do-gooder” -- but he sure sounded like one Thursday.
He talked about getting a relative to live with him a few years ago in order to keep him out of trouble and off drugs – something that was working until the two made a brief trip back to Florida, just long enough for the relative to get in trouble and sent to prison. Edge also talked about how he used to get money from drug dealers and guys on the wrong side of the law when he was growing up.
"It wasn't done the right way but the end result was they always tried to take care of family and friends," James said. He added with a laugh, "In high school, you'd have guys giving you 100 dollars to score touchdowns, so you're scoring touchdowns left and right."
James said it took pressure off his mom – who he said never knew he was getting money on the side – and that those breaking the law always gave back.
"Maybe that's why I give so much myself," Edge said. "I don't spend too much on myself. I spend it on my family, friends, everybody. I don't spoil them, but I am free with (my money)."
OK, Edge did treat himself to the Lamborghini for making the Super Bowl. But otherwise, his ways means school clothes for kids and gifts when they do well in school (and withholding stuff if they don't do well in school). It means "something big" when they graduate college. It means buying multiple houses – he won't offer up how many – so everyone has a roof over their head.
"You will have a place to stay, you'll have something to eat," James said. "I don't pay for your (drug) habit. But everything else, you'll be alright."
Is it any surprise Edge's favorite part of the Super Bowl is doing it close to home?
"I haven't been around that in a while," James said. "Being around family, that's the best thing."
Very Warner-esque, actually.