INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Edgerrin James leads the list of former Indianapolis Colts in contention for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019.
The team’s career rushing leader and one of the most prolific running backs in NFL history is one of 102 Modern-Era candidates released Thursday. It’s James’ fifth year of eligibility, and he’s made the cut to the Final 15 in two of the last three years.
Other long-time former Colts on the list are offensive linemen Chris Hinton and Ray Donaldson. Two others had lesser stints in Indy: linebacker Cornelius Bennett and defensive end Simeon Rice.
First-year eligible players are tight end Tony Gonzalez, linebacker London Fletcher, cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Ed Reed. Earlier, John Robinson was named a Senior Finalist and Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt selected as Contributor Finalists.
The Modern-Era list of 102 will be pared to 25 semifinalists in November, and cut to the 15 finalists in January. The Selection Committee – I am a voting member – meets Feb. 2, 2019 in Atlanta, Ga., to elect the Class of 2019.
James was the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft, and went on to set virtually every significant Colts’ rushing record. That includes yards in a career (9,226), a season (1,709) and a game (219). He led the NFL in rushing his first two seasons before suffering a serious knee injury midway through his third season.
James was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and named to the All-Decade team of the 2000. He ranks 13th in NFL history with 12,246 rushing yards and 15th with 15,610 total yards from scrimmage. Of the 12 players on the rushing list ahead of James, 10 already are in the Hall of Fame. The two outliers – Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson – still are active.
Donaldson pieced together a 17-year career that included 13 seasons with the Colts, four in Baltimore and nine in Indy. He was a six-time Pro Bowler.
Hinton spent his first season with the Baltimore Colts in 1983 before being part of the relocation in ’84. He started 92 of 94 games with the Colts before finishing his career in Atlanta and Minnesota. Hinton was named to seven Pro Bowls, and spread them around three positions – left guard, left tackle and right tackle.
The Modern-Era candidates (* – denotes 2018 Finalist):
QUARTERBACKS: Randall Cunningham, Dave Krieg, Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair.
RUNNING BACKS: Edgerrin James*, Shaun Alexander, Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Darryl Johnston, Eric Metcalf, Clinton Portis, Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker, Chris Warren, Ricky Watters.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Isaac Bruce*, Gary Clark, Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Sterling Sharpe, Rod Smith, Hines Ward.
TIGHT ENDS: Mark Bavaro, Tony Gonzalez, Brent Jones, Jay Novacek.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Chris Hinton, Ray Donaldson, Willie Anderson, Tony Boselli*, Loman Brown, Alan Faneca*, Kent Hull, Steve Hutchinson*, Mike Kenn, Olin Kreutz, Kevin Mawae*, Tom Nalen, Chris Samuels, Richmond Webb, Steve Wisniewski.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: La’Roi Glover, Russell Maryland, Leslie O’Neal, Simeon Rice, Richard Seymour, Neil Smith, Bryant Young.
LINEBACKERS: Cornelius Bennett, Carl Banks, Tedy Bruschi, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner, Wilber Marshall, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest, Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Chris Spielman, Takeo Spikes, Darryl Talley, Zach Thomas.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Eric Allen, Steve Atwater, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Bill Bates, LeRoy Butler, Nick Collins, Thomas Everett, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law*, Albert Lewis, John Lynch*, Tim McDonald, Ed Reed, Dennis Smith, Troy Vincent, Adrian Wilson, Darren Woodson.
PUNTERS/KICKER: Jason Elam, Jeff Feagles, Sean Landeta.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Brian Mitchell, Steve Tasker.
COACHES: Don Coryell, Bil Cowher, Tom Flores, Jim Hanifan, Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Richie Petitbon, Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil.