INDIANAPOLIS — The Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday announced its inductees for the Class of 2018, a list that did not include Edgerrin James, the greatest running back in Indianapolis Colts history.
James, a Hall of Fame finalist in 2018 for the second time in three years, could be considered a favorite for next year's Class of 2019, though the list will include several very strong first-year candidates: safety Ed Reed, cornerback Champ Bailey and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Others who did not make the cut this year that will likely get strong consideration in 2019 include linebacker John Lynch, cornerbacks Everson Walls and Ty Law, wide receiver Isaac Bruce and tackle Tony Boselli.
Those selected Saturday for the Class of 2018 include Modern-Era candidates safety Brian Dawkins, linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher and wide receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens; Senior candidates Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and Contributor candidate Bobby Beathard. They will be formally be enshrined in a ceremony in Canton on Saturday, Aug. 4.
Statistically one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, James played 11 NFL seasons, including his first seven with the Indianapolis Colts. He wrapped up his career with the Arizona Cardinals (2006-08) and the Seattle Seahawks (2009).
The University of Miami product had perhaps the greatest start to a career for a running back in NFL history, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1999 after leading the league with 369 carries and 1,553 yards, while adding 13 scores on the ground; he also had 62 receptions for 586 yards and four touchdowns through the air. His second season was even better: a league-best 1,709 rushing yards to go along with 13 rushing touchdowns, with 63 receptions for 594 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
James was on a similar path in his third year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury six games into the season. Upon his return in 2002, James was still one of the top backs in the league, but after averaging 103.2 rushing yards per game in his first 38 contests prior to that injury, he would average about 76 yards over his final 110 games.
Matching up with the likes of quarterback Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne at wide receiver, center Jeff Saturday, tight end Dallas Clark and many others, James — also praised for his blocking ability — was a huge piece to one of the most feared offensive units in NFL history. During James' seven seasons in Indianapolis, the Colts compiled a 77-35 (.689) record and earned a playoff berth six times.
He left the Colts after the 2005 season as the franchise's all-time leader in rushing yards (9,226), rushing touchdowns (64), rushing yards per game (96.1), rushing yards in a single season (1,709 in 2000) and most seasons with 1,000 rushing yards (five).
By the time James hung up his cleats following the 2009 season, he had been named to four Pro Bowls and rushed for 12,246 yards, which currently ranks 13th on the all-time list. His 15,610 total yards from scrimmage ranks 11th all-time among running backs and is more than Hall of Fame backs Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis and Jim Brown.
Of the 12 players ahead of James on the NFL's all-time rushing list, 10 of them are already enshrined in Canton. The other two — Frank Gore (No. 5) and Adrian Peterson (No. 11) — are still active NFL players.
Flashback Friday - 2018 HOF Finalist - EDGERRIN JAMES