INDIANAPOLIS — Someday, Edgerrin James should be wearing that coveted gold jacket.
This year, apparently, just wasn't his year.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday evening announced its 15 finalists for its Class of 2017, and despite reaching that stage a year ago, James — the greatest running back in Indianapolis Colts history — did not see his name included in this year's group.
What gives? Shouldn't logic tell you that if you're a finalist one year, your odds of, at the very least, being a finalist the next year should be very high, as well?
Well, perhaps, but a quick look at this year's 15 finalists will show that while James certainly stacks up, one can see where he was overtaken.
Let's start at running back, where LaDainian Tomlinson made it to the finalist round in his first year on the ballot, and appears as though he should be a shoo-in for this year's Class of 2017. He's fifth all-time in rushing yards in NFL history, won a Most Valuable Player award and is one of the best pass-catching backs to ever play the game. OK, that's fair. Also, there's Terrell Davis, who certainly didn't play long, but definitely made his mark, especially in the postseason. Now in his 10th year on the ballot, it seems time for TD to get his gold jacket and bust in Canton.
So there's two all-time-greats at James' position that will likely get the nod first.
Then there's a few other finalists this year who seem as if they'll be locks over the next couple years: offensive linemen Alan Faneca and Joe Jacoby, safety John Lynch, wide receiver Terrell Owens and quarterback Kurt Warner.
Offensive tackle Tony Boselli and kicker Morten Andersen, as well as defensive end Jason Taylor, safety Brian Dawkins and cornerback Ty Law (ugh), are also considered by many as up-and-coming Hall of Fame candidates.
Now, the 15 finalists will join Senior Finalist Kenny Easley and 2017 Contributor Finalists Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue when the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee meets to vote on the night before Super Bowl LI.
But just because James didn't make the cut this year, let's not forget just how awesome No. 32 was for the Horseshoe.
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 12th on the all-time list. His 15,610 total yards from scrimmage ranks 12th all-time among running backs, and is more than Hall of Fame backs Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis and Jim Brown.
Colts owner Jim Irsay considers James "one of the most significant players" in team history.
"He embodies the talent and competitive nature we seek in every player," Irsay said of James in 2012, when he was enshrined in the Colts' Ring of Honor. "Edgerrin ran his way into the record books and into the hearts of all Colts fans."
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 yards and also scoring 13 touchdowns on the ground and four touchdowns through the air. He followed that up with 1,709 rushing yards in 2000, which is the most by a Colts running back in franchise history.
James would go on to become the Colts' franchise leader 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).
Colts great quarterback Peyton Manning, who joined the Colts in 1998, just one year before James was selected, said James was a "huge" part in establishing Indianapolis as one of the top franchises in football in the 2000s.
"Edgerrin was a great teammate, a great friend. He came to my wedding. I loved having him in the locker room with me for those years. We have a great friendship today, and it's one I value very much," Manning said. "For my opinion, Edgerrin is a Pro Football Hall-of-Fame running back. … He's a Hall-of-Fame running back in my opinion, without a doubt."