INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Two cornerstones for the Indianapolis Colts’ decade of offensive excellence are one step closer – one final step – to NFL immortality.
Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne are among the 15 Modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020, which was announced Thursday.
James, the Colts’ irresistible force from 1999-2005 and the franchise’s career rushing leader.
Wayne, the consistently prolific wideout from 2001-14 and the second-leader receiver in team history. He trails only Marvin Harrison, a member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016.
James, the 4th-overall pick in the ’99 draft and a two-time league rushing champion.
Wayne, the 30th-overall pick in 2001 who played in more games in the regular season (211) and playoffs (21) than any other Colt, Indianapolis or Baltimore variety.
James and Wayne, the University of Miami products who could earn their spot in Canton, Ohio, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee meets Feb. 1 in Miami, the day before Super Bowl LIV. (I am a member of the selection committee.)
James is in his sixth year of eligibility and has reached the Final 15 for a fourth time. He advanced to the Final 10 for the first time last February.
This is Wayne’s first year of eligibility.
The other 13 Modern-era candidates: safeties Troy Polamalu, John Lynch, Steve Atwater and LeRoy Butler; wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt; linebackers Sam Mills and Zach Thomas; offensive tackle Tony Boselli; defensive tackle Bryant Young; guards Alan Faneca and Steve Hutchison; and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.
The Modern-era finalists were whittled down from an original slate of 122 nominees, which then was reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists.
The entire selection committee will select no more than five Modern-era candidates for enshrinement. That group will join 15 additional individuals – 10 Senior players, three Contributors, two coaches – who will be selected by a blue-ribbon panel.
James holds virtually every rushing record for the Colts, including yards in a career (9,226), a season (1,709) and a game (219). In the NFL, he ranks 13th in career rushing (12,246) and 16th in total yards from scrimmage (15,610). He set the team record for total yards from scrimmage in 2000 (2,303).
Of the NFL’s top 16 all-time rushers, only three are not in the Hall of Fame: James, Frank Gore (No. 3) and Adrian Peterson (No. 6). Gore and Peterson still are active.
Wayne, meanwhile, balanced James’ power on the ground with prolonged excellence in the passing game. He ranks second in team history and 10th in NFL history with 1,070 receptions and 14,345 yards. He also was one of the league’s most prolific players in the postseason, ranking 3rd with 93 receptions, 5th with 1,254 yards and tied for 9th with 9 TDs.
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