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Indianapolis Colts

Hall of Fame: The Case for RB Edgerrin James

The Colts all-time franchise leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns makes quite the case for Hall of Fame enshrinement.


Also read the Hall of Fame Case for WR Marvin Harrison](

INDIANAPOLIS --- For the first time, former Colts running back Edgerrin James is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility last year, "Edge" did not advance out of the group of 25 modern-era semifinalists.

This time, James is one of 15 finalists, with no more than five spots available for enshrinement from the pool of modern-era finalists.

The Annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee Meeting will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016, in San Francisco when the 46-person Selection Committee meets to elect the Class of 2016.


The case for James to be enshrined begins with the argument that his resume was already stronger statistically than the running back who received a gold jacket last year, Steelers running back Jerome Bettis:

Edgerrin James: 11 seasons, 1113.3 rushing yards per year, 15610 total yards, 91 TD

Jerome Bettis: 13 seasons, 1050.9 rushing yards per year, 15111 total yards, 94 TD

James was also already voted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee as a 1st-team running back on the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Bettis did not make the 1st or 2nd team for the 1990s or 2000s. All these factors should make the case for James even stronger this time around, with Bettis already in Canton.


When the debates begin over the 15 finalists, the first fellow finalist James will likely have to beat out is the only other running back being considered, Broncos tailback Terrell Davis. Here's how they stack up:

Seasons: Davis 7, James 11

Pro Bowls: Davis 3, James 4

1st-Team All-Pro: Davis 3, James 1

Total Yards: Davis 8887, James 15111

Touchdowns: Davis 65, James 91

Although Davis was stellar for three seasons (evidenced by three 1st-Team All-Pro selections and 2 Super Bowls), the argument here is that he did not sustain it for nearly as long as James did.

A look at the career numbers of Davis shows four seasons to start with 1117, 1538, 1750, and 2008 rushing yards but sadly only 211, 282, and 701 rushing yards in his final three seasons due to injuries.

James rushed for 1553 and 1709 yards (to lead the NFL in both seasons) to start his career before a brutal knee injury in year three. James came back from that to log six consecutive seasons with 1300 scrimmage yards.

When discussing Hall of Fame candidates, even in a sport where careers are generally shorter, doesn't longevity and prolonged production count for a lot, especially at a position as taxing on the body as running back?

Edgerrin James should be rewarded this year for 11 Hall of Fame worthy seasons. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee already did so as a 1st-team running back on the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.


2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalist - EDGERRIN JAMES


Other Edgerrin James accomplishments:

James is 11th all-time in rushing yards with 12,246. Every player above him on the list is in the Hall of Fame, except LaDainian Tomlinson, who is not eligible until 2017. That's also more rushing yards than Hall of Fame running backs Marcus Allen, Franco Harris, and Thurman Thomas, among others.

His 15,610 scrimmage yards is 11th all-time among running backs, more than Hall of Fame running backs Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis, and Jim Brown.

In 13 career playoff games, James averaged 87.4 scrimmage yards per game. From his first year in the league (1999) until now, no running back has had more total yards in the playoffs than Edgerrin James.

James was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1999, after leading the league with 1553 rushing yards. He also added 13 rushing touchdowns and 62 receptions for 586 yards and 4 receiving scores.

His 82.7 rushing yards per game ranks 12th all-time, ahead of other Hall of Famers like Earl Campbell, Emmitt Smith, and Tony Dorsett.

During the 2000s, only LaDainian Tomlinson had more yards from scrimmage and rushing yards than Edgerrin James.

Add 1999 to the mix (James's rookie year) and the gap between Tomlinson and him shrinks. Both played 11 seasons.

James has 59 career 100-yard rushing games, tied for 6th all-time. The five players above him are all in the Hall of Fame.

His 92 career games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage (including the postseason) is 6th all-time and four more than Jerry Rice and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Since 1978 (start of the 16-game season), Edgerrin James (2000) is one of only three players to record 15 games with 100 yards from scrimmage in a single season. The others are Marcus Allen (1985) and Barry Sanders (1997). Even going back to the start of the 14-game schedule in 1961, only one other player (Wilbert Montgomery in 1979) was able to record 100 scrimmage yards in every game but one during a season.

Edgerrin James is one of only 11 players all-time to record 85 rushing yards in 13 or more games during a single season. James accomplished this in 2005, helping the Colts start the season 13-0. The Colts had already clinched home-field advantage at that point, and James did not play in a meaningless week 17 game that season. In weeks 15 and 16, James also only received 13 carries in each game, down from his 25.7 carries per game average from the first 13 games, because home-field was already locked up. In other words, James could have very easily sat alone atop this list.


Will Edgerrin James get the call to the Hall in 2016? With each passing year in the NFL and the decline of featured running backs, his case is only getting stronger.


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