Edgerrin James voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame


INDIANAPOLIS – NOVEMBER 13: Edgerrin James #32 of the Indianapolis Colts carries the ball around Robaire Smith #99 the Houston Texans on November 13, 2005 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Texans 31-17. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

MIAMI, Fla. – The wait is over for Edgerrin James.

Next stop: Canton, Ohio.

The Indianapolis Colts’ career rushing leader and one of the most relentless, productive running backs in NFL history is part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. The latest group of honorees was selected Saturday by the 48-member Selection Committee (I am a member).

James broke the news himself on his Instagram account.

James, 41, earned his invitation to Canton in his sixth year of eligibility and fourth year as one of the 15 Modern-era finalists. Former teammate Reggie Wayne also was in the Final 15 but fell short in his first year of eligibility.

“Finally,’’ James said.

Rounding out the Class of 2020: safeties Troy Polamalu and Steve Atwater, guard Steve Hutchison and wide receiver Isaac Bruce.

James holds virtually every Colts’ rushing record, including 9,226 career yards, and ranks 13th in NFL history with 12,246 rushing yards and 16th with 15,610 yards from scrimmage.

James has expressed frustration with having to wait for six years. He was convinced he did enough during a decorated 11-year career – two league rushing titles, four 1,500-yard rushing seasons, four Pro Bowl selections, one first-team All-Pro selection – to have made it before now.

“As long as I did everything the right way, I’m fine with it,’’ James said last week. “I guess you just have to wait your turn. That’s out of my control.

“Whatever happens on that front is what’s supposed to happen.’’

It finally happened, and James gives the Colts, Indy edition, another prominent presence in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison are members of the Class of 2016. Bill Polian is part of the Class of 2015 while Marshall Faulk was enshrined in 2011 and Eric Dickerson in 1999.

Wayne should get consideration again next year, and the candidates for the Class of 2021 will be led by first-year eligible Peyton Manning.

The Colts selected James with the fourth overall pick in the 1999 draft. As if that didn’t put enough pressure on the University of Miami standout, they cleared the backfield for his arrival by trading feature back Faulk to the St. Louis Rams.

From the very start, James reinforced the organization’s belief in him.

“Certain guys make this incredible impression on you,’’ said Manning, who considers James a catalyst of the elite offense that drove the Colts once he arrived in 1999.

James joined Eric Dickerson and Earl Campbell as the only players since the 1970 merger to lead the NFL in rushing in their first two seasons. He debuted with 1,553 yards as a rookie, then set the team’s single-season rushing record with a league-best 1,709 yards in 2000.

James was on pace to lead the NFL in rushing for a third straight season when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in week 6 of 2001 at Kansas City. Prior to the injury, he rushed for 662 yards and was on pace for 1,765 yards.

A cornerstone of James’ candidacy was his ability to make a complete recovery from the knee injury. He rushed for 8,322 yards post-ACL, which would rank 42nd in NFL history and surpass the career totals of more than a dozen Hall of Fame running backs, including Terrell Davis.

Also, James is one of four backs to rush for at least 1,500 yards four times. The other three are first-ballot Hall of Famers: Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and Dickerson.

That’s why he had grown frustrated with having to wait as long as he has.

“I did it all at a high level,’’ he said. “I did all three phases at a high level. That’s pretty tough to do. You can be pretty good at one of them, or another. But when you can do all three at a high level and one that you don’t even get credit for – how much of a great teammate you are – I take pride in that.

“Whatever happens, happens. Your body of work is right there. They look at my body of work and say I should already be in there.

“There is nothing more I can do.’’

There’s nothing more Edgerrin James needs to do.

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