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Why Terrell Davis' Hall of Fame candidacy is good news for Edgerrin James

According to the MMQB's Peter King, former Broncos running back Terrell Davis likely will end up in the Hall of Fame someday. Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson explains why that's good news for former Colts back Edgerrin James.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016 includes two former Colts, as Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison both made the cut, but another former Colts finalist was left out.  In fact, Edgerrin James didn't even make the cutdown from 15 to 10 in voting process, showing that he still isn't too close to getting in.

Those of you who have followed our Hall of Fame coverage know that I think that Edgerrin James will eventually get into the Hall of Fame, though ti comes as no surprise that it didn't happen this year.  He's got a resume that will surprise many and that warrants inclusion in Canton, and his numbers will likely look even better as the years go on.

Last year, when longtime Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was elected to the Hall oF Fame, I wrote about how that only meant good things for James' candidacy.  In fact, with most of the running backs coming up (with the exception of LaDainian Tomlinson), a Hall of Fame induction would be a boost to James' resume.  One such name is Terrell Davis, and his potential Hall of Fame induction at some point should give more confidence to those who want to see James get elected at some point as well.

Shortly after the selection meeting took place, the MMQB's Peter King - one of the Hall of Fame voters - wrote about how he is now convinced that former Broncos running back Terrell Davis will, at some point, make the Hall of Fame.  If that eventually happens, it will be good news for Edgerrin James' case.

Terrell Davis was incredible for a four-year stretch, from 1995-1998.  He was one of the biggest driving forces behind Denver's back-to-back Super Bowl victories and was the MVP of one of those games.  He posted over 1,000 yards rushing in four straight seasons and recorded double-digit touchdowns in three of them.  In 1998, Davis was named the league's MVP after he rushed for 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.  Without a doubt, he played at an elite level for a four-year stretch, and it seems like that could be enough to carry him to the Hall of Fame.

When talking about Edgerrin James, let's be clear: he never had a four year stretch where he was as dominant as Davis was.  But with that said, it's interesting to take a look at their four best years and see how James actually isn't too far behind.

Here's a basic comparison of Davis' best four seasons (1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998) vs. James' best four seasons (1999, 2000, 2004, 2005), including playoffs.

Terrell Davis
Edgerrin James
69 Games 68
1,547 Attempts 1,536
7,553 Yards 6,637
68 TD 50
4.88 Avg. 4.32
171 Receptions 238
1,312 Yards 2,147
5 TD 10
7.67 Avg. 9.02
8,865 Total Yards 8,784
73 Total TD 60

Clearly, Terrell Davis was better during his best four years than James was, and his massive contribution to the Broncos' two Super Bowl runs would break any tie anyway.  So there's really no debating that Davis was simply better during his best four years, and it's even more impressive that they came four years in a row.

You may be wondering, then, where I'm going with this article to suggest that Davis getting inducted is good news for James.  Here's why: James is at least in the same ballpark when looking at the best four seasons (he's less than 100 total yards away from Davis' total).  When considering the rest of his career, then, it should be enough to get James in if indeed Davis does get in.  Outside of those four years, James' career resume absolutely blows away Davis' resume.  Take a look for yourself at their career stats outside of those four seasons we examined earlier (including playoffs):

Terrell Davis
Edgerrin James
17 Games 93
312 Attempts 1,710
1,194 Yards 6,461
4 TD 36
3.83 Avg. 3.78
17 Receptions 230
99 Yards 1,501
0 TD 1
5.82 Avg. 6.52
1,293 Total Yards 7,962
4 Total TD 37

Similarly, when looking at the stats of both players for their entire careers (including playoffs), it's clear that James' resume is superior.

Terrell Davis
Edgerrin James
86 Games 161
1,859 Attempts 3,246
8,747 Yards 13,098
72 TD 86
4.71 Avg. 4.04
188 Receptions 468
1,411 Yards 3,648
5 TD 11
7.51 Avg. 7.79
10,158 Total Yards 16,746
77 Total TD 97

Davis does have the edge in the per-game statistics (where he has some very impressive numbers), and that's likely what his Hall of Fame candidacy will rest on.  He was really, really good for a four-year period, and it sounds like he may be headed to Canton at some point as a result.  Edgerrin James doesn't have nearly as good of a four-year stretch, but his best four years are at least in a similar ballpark and, when boosted by the rest of his career, make his case evident.

This isn't to take anything away from Terrell Davis, just like last year's article wasn't meant to take anything away from Jerome Bettis.  But it's clear that the more the Hall of Fame voters focus on the running backs, the better Edgerrin James' resume will look.  He'll likely have to wait a while to get in, but I continue to grow more and more confident that the former Colts back will at some point wind up in Canton as well.