One of the all-time great players to play in Indianapolis is without a doubt running back Edgerrin James, and he was a semi-finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year in his first year of eligibility.
James' candidacy for the Hall of Fame is one of the most intriguing of any former Colts players, as some (like Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison) are locks to get in. James, on the other hand, faces a tougher test and discussion, but he clearly thinks he's done enough to get in.
Appearing on the Brown and Scoop show on CBS Radio's Play.it podcast with Jake Brown and Brandon "Scoop B" Robinson, James was clear on his thoughts:
"The body of work is there. I've done everything that you're supposed to do. Everything that is required to get in. As far as the numbers, the numbers are there. You look at me in the all-time rankings, total yards, everything I brought to the table, everything stands out. I've passed more people that are in there than that are not in there. It's just a matter of time. It's just a matter of what they are going to do and how they are going to go about it. I did everything I was supposed to do. The thing I never get credit for, which you're supposed to, is the blocking. We had to block tremendously in Indianapolis. We put a lot of work in on blocking. There's not too many people that did the work I did blocking."
To be perfectly honest, James is right. His resume really does stack up well among other Hall of Fame running backs, and those numbers also don't give him credit for his blocking. James rushed for 12,246 yards and 80 touchdowns in his career, averaging four yards per carry. He also caught 433 passes for 3,364 yards and 11 touchdowns, bringing his total to 15,610 total yards and 91 total touchdowns, a very impressive mark indeed. He has seven 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, made four Pro Bowls, and a one-time first-team All-Pro.
James ranks 12th on the NFL's all-time rushing list, and he is one of only two players in the top 14 all-time not in the Hall of Fame along with LaDainian Tomlinson, who is not yet eligible. So there's a very strong case to be made that Edge is the best running back who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not yet in. Furthermore, the induction of Jerome Bettis last year is very good news for James' case, as his resume stacks up very well against that of Bettis. We also examined earlier this year how James' numbers exceed the average numbers of the modern-era Hall of Fame running backs, showing that he certainly belongs among the group.
In short, James will likely have to wait a little bit before being inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he's right in that his body of work is there and comparable to other Hall of Fame running backs. While it's not a sure thing that he'll get in, it seems likely that he will at some point, and it can also be said truthfully that he deserves it.