INDIANAPOLIS — Will this be the year for Edgerrin James?
The legendary Indianapolis Colts running back on Thursday was once again listed among the initial modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this time for the class of 2019.
James — a Hall of Fame finalist last year for the second time — is one of five former Colts players on the initial class of 2019 nominees list, and is joined by linebacker Cornelius Bennett, center Ray Donaldson, guard/tackle Chris Hinton and defensive end Simeon Rice.
Among those curiously not among the nominees this year: former center Jeff Saturday, who was a nominee last year for the first time, and former safety Bob Sanders, a nominee two years ago.
Statistically one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Edgerrin James three years ago, in his second year of eligibility, was one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016 — the same class that ended up including James’ former teammate, Marvin Harrison, and head coach, Tony Dungy. He was a finalist once again last year.
James played 11 NFL seasons, including his first seven with the Indianapolis Colts. In his career, James was named to four Pro Bowls and rushed for 12,246 yards, which ranks 11th 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.
The Colts’ fourth-overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Miami, James lit up the league from the start in his NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, leading the league in rushing with 1,553 rushing yards and also scoring 13 touchdowns on the ground and four touchdowns through the air.
He’s the greatest running back in Colts history, and leads the franchise in career rushing yards (9,226), rushing touchdowns (64), rushing yards per game average (96.1), rushing yards in a single season (1,709 in 2000) and most seasons with 1,000 rushing yards (five).
Bennett, a Alabama product, was selected by the Colts with the second-overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft and spent the offseason with the club before he was traded to the Buffalo Bills in a three-way deal that sent running back Eric Dickerson from the Los Angeles Rams to the Colts.
A star pass rusher, Bennett then re-joined the Colts for the final two seasons of his career in 1999 and 2000.
A five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Bennett would go to win two AFC Defensive Player of the Year awards and played in five Super Bowls. In 14 NFL seasons, Bennett collected 71.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 31 forced fumbles, 27 fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns — one each via blocked field goal return, fumble return and interception return.
He had a combined eight sacks in his final two seasons with the Colts, playing in all 32 games with 31 starts over that span.
Bennett has also been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s preliminary ballot several years running.
A second-round draft choice of the Colts in 1980, Donaldson became one of the most dependable offensive linemen in franchise history, starting 152 straight games at center from 1981 to 1991 before breaking his leg during a September 1991 game against the Los Angeles Raiders. He would return to start all 16 games the following season.
Donaldson was selected to the Pro Bowl four straight seasons from 1986 to 1989, and at the time of his departure from the Colts, he had played in the third most games in franchise history (184).
Donaldson also had successful stops in Seattle (1993 and 1994) and Dallas (1995 and 1996) after his days in Indianapolis were over, earning Pro Bowl selections with the Cowboys both seasons.
Donaldson's name has appeared on the preliminary ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for several years.
Hinton became one of the most decorated Colts offensive linemen ever during his career with the franchise from 1983 to 1989.
An All-Rookie Team selection as a guard in 1983, Hinton was selected to six Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL several times as a left tackle from 1985 to 1989.
Hinton joined the Colts in a trade that sent John Elway to the Denver Broncos and left the club in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons in 1990.
Through his career, Hinton played in 177 total games over 13 years with three teams, and was inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor in 2001.
In Hinton’s final three seasons in Indianapolis, he enjoyed blocking for future Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, who joined the Colts in October 1987 in a three-team trade that also included the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills.
Hinton has been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s preliminary ballot several years running.
Rice wrapped up his 12-year NFL career back in 2007 with the Colts, appearing in two games and logging one tackle and one sack.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Rice finished his career with 122.0 career sacks, and was one of the more feared pass rushers of his era.