One of the greatest all-time people has retired from the NFL, and his name is Edgerrin James. James also just so happened to be a pretty great running back playing most of his career for the Indianapolis Colts.
According to ProCanes.com, a University of Miami website, Edgerrin has officially retired:
James, who turns 33 on Aug. 1, admitted his retirement at the start of his third annual Edgerrin James Foundation football camp at the Immokalee Sports Complex, just across the street from where he graduated at Immokalee High School in 1996.
"I’ve been retired," said James, a running back who began his career in 1999 as the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. "I’m not playing anymore."
Selected fourth overall in the 1999 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami, James' welcome into the NFL was met with questions and shrugged shoulders, especially in Radio City Music Hall on the first day of the draft. Many thought that Texas runningback Ricky Williams would get taken instead of James. Williams had won the Heisman Trophy the previous year in college football, and was considered by many to be the 'best' runningback in that draft class.
James rushed for 1,553 yards his rookie season, helping the Colts to improve from a 3-13 record the year before to 13-3 and a division title. It was the single greatest year-to-year turnaround in NFL history. James then rushed for 1,709 yards in 2000.
In 2001, he was well on his way to another 1,700 yard season when he tore his ACL in a Week Seven match-up against the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead. James was lost for the season after that injury. In many ways, that injury in K.C. changed his whole career. While never a speedy back, he lost most of his breakaway ability after that injury.
Still, in true fashion that would come to define Edge's career, he shrugged off critics and bounced back to rush for 1,259 yards in 2003 followed by two 1,500+ yard seasons in 2004 and 2005. From 1999-2005, he was the primary workhorse in an offense that featured 'The Triplets' of quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and James. Today, only Manning remains in the NFL, with Harrison leaving football after the 2008 season.
After 2005, he left the Colts via free agency and signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The Colts won the Super Bowl the year he left, but decided to present him with an honorary ring after they defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
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Edge went on to rush for 1,159 yards and 1,222 yards, respectively, in the 2006 and 2007 seasons for the Cardinals. Though he ran for only 544 yards in 2008, he was a critical player in the Cardinals reaching Super Bowl XLIII, which they lost 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
James is currently 11th on the all-time rushing list, one spot below Marshall Faulk, who (ironically) is the man he replaced in Indianapolis in 1999 after Faulk was traded to the St. Louis Rams. Faulk will be inducted into the Pro football Hall of Fame this year in Canton, OH. James is ahead of O.J. Simpson, Franco Harris, and Marcus Allen on the rushing list. He also had 433 receptions for 3,364 yards. He won the 1999 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, was named to four Pro Bowls, and was First-Team All-Pro in 1999.
Quite simply, if Edgerrin James does not get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, burn the place down. It's a meaningless dump if someone like Edge can't get in.
James was also one of the true 'good guys' in a sport loaded with egos. He was kind and unassuming, but played with an intelligence and toughness rare in runningbacks. James lost his spouse and mother of his four kids, Andia Denise Wilson, to leukemia in 2009. Since then, he's been raising the children on his own. The Colts had a video tribute to James when he visited as a member of the Seattle Seahawks in October 2009.
"That’s the way I wanted it," James said. "I wanted to get in, get out, no big thing. I’m on to something else now. Now, I’m a fan.
It was always a joy to watch Edge run, to see his gold teeth smiling and his dreads shaking as he weaved his way through would-be tacklers. Now, he quietly hangs them up, and his next stop should be Canton.