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Former Colts Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, and Tony Dungy semi-finalists for Hall of Fame Class of 2016

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Former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Edgerrin James, and head coach Tony Dungy are among the 25 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

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The NFL tonight announced the 25 semi-finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016, and the Indianapolis Colts are very well-represented.  Head coach Tony Dungy, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and running back Edgerrin James are all among the modern-era semi-finalists finalists that were narrowed down from the 108 nominees.  Later, the list will again be narrowed down to a group of finalists before the Hall of Fame class is announced.

Harrison is on his third year of being a serious candidate and has so far been inexplicably left out of the final Hall of Fame voting.  It seems very likely that he'll get in this year, but again, we can't be sure the voters will get things right.  Without a doubt, Harrison's resume is one that belongs in Canton, as he will go down among the greatest receivers in league history.  He caught 1,102 catches (third all-time) for 14,580 yards (seventh all-time) and 128 touchdowns (fifth all-time) during his NFL career, holding the Colts' franchise record in each category as well.  Just as impressive is the fact that for a span of eight straight seasons (1999-2006), Harrison recorded at least 1,000-yards and 10+ touchdowns in each year.  Furthermore, he caught a pass in every single one of the 190 games he played in, and he also holds the NFL record for most receptions in a single-season with 143 (a mark that no one has come close to breaking).  Together with quarterback Peyton Manning, Harrison is a part of the most prolific quarterback/wide receiver duo in NFL history, as the two hold the records for most receptions, yards, and touchdowns between two players.  During his career, Harrison had 16 games with double-digit receptions, 59 games with 100+ receiving yards, and 28 games with multiple touchdowns while being named to eight Pro Bowls and being a three-time first-team All Pro.  This is the third year that Harrison is eligible for the Hall of Fame, and in the previous two tries he has been a finalist before ultimately not making the cut.  There's really no doubt that he'll be in the Hall of Fame at some point (sooner rather than later), as it just depends on when the voters wake up and realize it.

While it's pretty clear that Harrison deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, Edgerrin James' case is much less evident.  James is in his second year of eligibility and was a semi-finalist last year, which would seem to be a good sign for his eventual chances of getting into Canton.  It's easy to brush James aside as a very good running back not deserving of the highest honor, but a closer look reveals that there's a strong case to be made.  He rushed for 12,246 yards in his career (11th-most all-time) and he's one of two players in the top 14 not in the Hall of Fame - along with LaDainian Tomlinson, who's not yet eligible.  James rushed for 80 touchdowns (also in the top 20 all-time at number 19) and averaged four yards per carry.  Bolstering his cause is the fact that he added 433 receptions for 3,364 yards and 11 touchdowns, finishing his career with 15,610 total yards from scrimmage (13th-most all-time) and 91 total touchdowns.  Like Harrison with receiving, James holds most of the Colts' significant franchise records when it comes to rushing.  He topped 1,000-yards rushing in six seasons and 2,000 total yards from scrimmage in two seasons.  He was a four-time Pro Bowler and a one-time first-team All Pro.  James' case is made much stronger when looking at his resume compared first to Jerome Bettis (who was inducted last year) and then at all of the modern-era running backs in the Hall, against whom James compares very favorably.  In other words, either James will be inducted to the Hall of Fame at some point (he'll likely have to wait) or he'll be the best running back not in Canton.

Lastly, head coach Tony Dungy enters his third season as a candidate and has been a finalist in each of his first two seasons, which is a positive sign for his hopes of eventually getting in.  In Dungy's 13 seasons as a head coach (six with the Buccaneers and seven with the Colts), he compiled a 139-69 record (.688), with his win percentage ranking 13th all-time (one spot behind Bill Belichick).  More impressive than that, however, is the fact that Dungy's teams made the playoffs in eleven of his thirteen seasons.  He took over one of the league's worst franchises in the Buccaneers and turned them into winners, getting them to within one game of the Super Bowl in 1999 and made four playoff appearances.  During seven seasons with the Colts, Dungy went 85-27 (.759) and made the playoffs each year (winning 12+ games in six of them), winning five division titles, an AFC South championship, and Super Bowl XLI.  Dungy was the first coach in league history to defeat all 32 teams and the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl.  He also became just the third person in league history to win a Super Bowl as both a player and as a coach.  His average of 10.7 wins per season is the best such mark in league history among coaches with at least five years of experience.  He was known as a defensive coach, and he helped create the Tampa 2 defense and had an extensive coaching tree.

Ultimately, it seems likely that all three of these men - Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, and Tony Dungy - will be members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point, but not right away.  The only lock this year would figure to be Harrison, but even he can't be considered a "lock" because of the past few years.  Regardless, the fact that these three are semi-finalists for the second straight year is a positive sign, and I think they'll all get in at some point.