ATLANTA, Ga. – Maybe next year.
Edgerrin James’ pursuit of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame went a step further Saturday but fell short again when the Indianapolis Colts’ record-setting running back failed to garner enough support for inclusion in the Class of 2019.
James was one of the 15 modern-era finalists for a third time in four years. He made the cut from 15 to 10 for the first time, but the depth of candidates left him on the outside looking in as the five modern-era individuals were selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee (I am one of 48 voting members). Rounding out the elite group were two contributors and a senior candidate.
The waiting is wearing on James.
“Same as always,’’ he told CBS4. “The process is a joke.
James will renew his quest next year when he’ll be joined by former Indianapolis Colts teammate Reggie Wayne, who’ll be eligible for consideration for the first time since retiring after the 2014 season.
The Class of 2019: Ed Reed, Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, Kevin Mawae, Ty Law, Gil Brandt (contributor), Pat Bowlen (contributor) and Johnny Robinson (senior).
Reed, Gonzalez and Bailey were first-year eligible candidates, which obviously hurt James’ candidacy.
James’ extensive body of work compiled over his 11-year career remains impressive, but once again wasn’t enough to sway enough of the Hall of Fame voters.
He holds Colts’ rushing records for a career (9,226), single-season (1,709) and single-game (219), and was a first-team member of the All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He ranks 13th in NFL history with 12,246 yards and 15th with 15,610 total yards from scrimmage.
Of the top 55 rushers in NFL history, 20 have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Seventeen were first-ballot or second-year eligible players. One was inducted in his fourth year of eligibility and another in his fifth year.
James and Terrell Davis are the only ones to have to wait longer than five years.
In the days leading to the Saturday’s voting, James was banking on his resume pushing him to Canton, Ohio.
“Look at all the facts,’’ he said. “I’m really confused because what are you being judged off of? I thought we were required to do three things (run, catch, block) and do them well. I’ll line up against anybody, and I mean anybody.
“You can go through every running back and you tell me who played at a higher level in every aspect? Show me the one that did every aspect better than me.’’
Perhaps James’ validation comes next year in his sixth year of eligibility.