INDIANAPOLIS — Are Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne on the precipice of football immortality?
We'll know the answer to that question very soon.
The former Indianapolis Colts greats are both among the 15 Modern Era finalists for this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020; the five inductees from that list will be revealed on Saturday night, on the eve of Super Bowl LIV.
James, a finalist for the fourth time in five years, and Wayne, a finalist in his first year of eligibility, will be presented to the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee during its annual meeting tomorrow in Miami on "Selection Saturday." Other Modern Era finalists this year are safety Troy Polamalu, linebacker Zach Thomas, defensive tackle Bryant Young, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, safety John Lynch, safety Steve Atwater, safety LeRoy Butler, wide receiver Torry Holt, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, linebacker Sam Mills, tackle Tony Boselli, guard Alan Faneca and guard Steve Hutchinson.
Both James and Wayne are hoping to get the nod Saturday night in the city in which they became college legends at the University of Miami.
• James, the greatest running back in franchise history, was the No. 4-overall pick by the Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft; he made an immediate impact alongside quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison, being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and leading the league in rushing yards his first two seasons.
James would go on to become the Colts' all-time leader in 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).
He played seven seasons in Indy, and ended his career with four more seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2006-08) and the Seattle Seahawks (2009). A two-time First-Team All-Pro, two-time Second-Team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection, James currently stands at No. 13 on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list (12,246); of the 12 players ahead of him, 10 of them are already in the Hall of Fame, and the other two — Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson — are still active NFL players.
James, who was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 2000s, was inducted into the Colts' Ring of Honor in 2012.
NFL.com writer Adam Rank recently predicted James as one of the five inductees for this year's Hall of Fame class, alongside Faneca, Hutchinson, Lynch and Polamalu:
"I know it's almost too convenient to pick James, who played football at Miami and went to Immokalee High School in Florida, to be announced at this particular edition of NFL Honors. But he has a strong case. He's a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He had more than 1,000 scrimmage yards in eight of his first nine seasons. He is one of just two players (along with Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson) to have gained more than 2,000 scrimmage yards in each of his first two seasons in the league. And he was looking pretty good in his third before an ACL injury cut that season short. This is his fourth-time as a finalist and his sixth year of eligibility, and really, he should have been a first-ballot guy -- but the voters will get it right this year. I just hope they can resist the urge to wait for the Class of 2021, when he could go in with Peyton Manning. James deserves his own platform."
• Wayne is just one of two first-year eligible players to make the finalist round this year, with Polamalu being the other. He is looking to become the first first-ballot Hall of Famer with significant Colts ties since running back Marshall Faulk in 2011.
Since 1970, 89.3 percent of all finalists have eventually been selection for induction, according to the PFHOF.
Selected by the Colts in the first round (30th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft, Wayne would go on to become one of the most beloved players in franchise history. He played 14 NFL seasons (2001-14), all in Indy, and in a franchise record 211 games, totaled 1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns.
A six-time Pro Bowl selection and First-Team All-Pro in 2010, Wayne ranks 10th in NFL history in receptions and receiving yards; he's tied for 24th in NFL history in receiving touchdowns.
He saved his best performances for the biggest of stages, however, as he caught 93 passes for 1,254 yards and nine touchdowns in 21 career playoff games; Wayne ranks third in league history in postseason receptions, and ranks fifth all-time in postseason receiving yards.
Wayne, whose long touchdown reception from Peyton Manning was a key piece to the Colts' victory over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, was also a member of the 2009 Colts AFC Championship team. He became the 15th inductee into the Colts' Ring of Honor in 2018.
Wayne on Thursday night spoke with the PFHOF about the honor of being a finalist for this year's class.
"Whenever you can be in a room amongst the elites of the elite, you're already in heaven," Wayne said. "This is what you want. Sitting up here, I'm talking to Jimmy Johnson, who coached at the U, Bill Cowher … Richard Seymour, we came in at the same time. I mean, this is what it is is all about, just fellowship and coming together, knowing we're all waiting on the same thing — that knock."
Wayne said getting into the Hall of Fame "would mean everything."
"It'd tell me, for one, I did something right," Wayne said. "And that was the whole for me: I just wanted to play the game the right way, have my teammates say, 'You know what? Reggie was a great professional and an all-time teammate.' To me, that's all that mattered. So to get in the Hall, that just tells me I did it the right way."