AFC South Crush of the Week: Should Edgerrin James Be in the Hall of Fame?

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJuly 27, 2012

James was elusive and powerful
James was elusive and powerfulA. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts announced this week that Edgerrin James would be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor this season.

I've written before about what an incredible player James was, especially in his prime before his knee injury. This most recent honor raises the question of whether James will one day be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

Whenever we discuss the Hall of Fame, there are really two separate issues: will a player get in and should a player get in?

The case for James is extensive.

  • 11th all-time in rushing (better than 16 players in the Hall)
  • 18th all-time in rushing touchdowns
  • 13th all-time in Yards from scrimmage
  • Two-time rushing champion
  • Seven 1,000-yard rushing seasons (tied for 10th)

James is light on the ancillary awards. He's a four-time Pro Bowler, and just a one-time All-Pro. He won the Rookie of the Year award, and went to a Super Bowl with the Cardinals, but has no rings.

Assuming the eventual inclusion of both LaDainian Tomlinson and Jerome Bettis, James will either make the Hall of Fame or go down as the best running back in history not to go in. With no other back on the immediate horizon with a better case than James, the voters will have a difficult time vaulting anyone over him.

When you compare his numbers to that of similar backs, he stacks up well against the Hall of Famers, and is mostly superior to the guys who will just miss the cut. James has the advantage of a sterling reputation as a complete player. He was an excellent blocker, receiver and teammate as well as an elite runner.

James is so close to the line for enshrinement that even 500 more yards would have made him a lock for Canton, vaulting him to eighth all-time in rushing yards.

Given that no one active is even close to his career totals, I suspect that James's accomplishments will look better in five or 10 years than they do right now.

Given his complete resume, it's likely James will eventually be a Hall of Famer, but 10-15 years down the road. The longer he holds his position on the all-time rushing list, the harder it will be to justify his exclusion.

So to answer the two questions, yes, James should be a Hall of Famer.

And yes, James will be a Hall of Famer...someday.

So for a brilliant career, hugs and kisses, Edge. You are my AFC South Crush of the Week.