Better late than never.
These should be the words of NFL fans today, when pondering the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection of former Colts/Cardinals/Seahawks tailback Edgerrin James.
The 41-year-old James, who retired after the 2009 campaign (with Seattle), had been passed over by the Hall of Fame media for a few years; but these embedded, yet biased gatekeepers could only keep James out of Canton for so long.
Which brings us to this …
I rarely get emotional (read: irrational) about the Hall of Fame voting process for football, baseball or basketball, given the highly subjective factors that go into many of the candidates for each sport.
For example, here’s one bone of contention: I’ve always believed a former coach or athlete who remains in the spotlight, upon retiring, has a better chance of getting to a Hall of Fame sooner … simply because they’re continually part of the public consciousness.
James would be on the flip side of such notoriety.
The south Florida native rarely makes public appearances. He doesn’t hold a part- or full-time job in broadcasting or with an NFL franchise; and get this, the personable, yet mercurial James barely has double the Twitter followers of yours truly.
Even before James’ playing days had officially ended, I began making a pet project of his Canton candidacy, despite possessing zero rooting ties to the Colts, Cardinals or Seahawks.
EDGERRIN JAMES NOTABLES
a) James ranks 13th in all-time rushing yards (12,246) — ahead of Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Franco Harris, Thurman Thomas, John Riggins and O.J. Simpson.
b) For his 11 NFL seasons, James averaged 1,113 rushing yards, despite posting four years of 13 or fewer games.
c) Along those lines, James averaged 1,419 scrimmage yards per season … or 106 total yards per game (fractionally rounding up).
d) James averaged 1,652 total yards and 10 touchdowns in his first nine seasons.
Icon-wise, that type of otherworldly production would fall somewhere between Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown … and then Barry Sanders and Walter Payton.
e) In NFL history, 43 different running backs have notched at least one campaign of 2,000 total yards.
Of this immaculate group, only Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, Tiki Barber, Priest Holmes and James have accomplished the feat three times.
f) James rates 31st in career total touchdowns (non-quarterback), ahead of Hall of Fame backs O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Bobby Mitchell.
g) Charting his first 11 postseason outings, James eclipsed the elite-level threshold of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown eight times; and for the 2004 playoffs, the University of Miami product enjoyed a three-game average of 149 total yards and one TD.
h) One last thing: Along with Campbell and Dickerson, James ranks among the top 3 for greatest Years 1 and 2 of the modern era:
In 2009, James rolled for 2,139 total yards and 17 touchdowns as a rookie.
A year later, he trumped all three tallies with rushing yards (1,709), total yards (2,303) and total touchdowns (18).
Oh, and for good measure, Jones captured the NFL rushing title in both seasons.
Put it all together, and it’s shocking James didn’t garner greater Hall of Fame consideration in previous years.
When evaluating his absurdly consistent career, James was essentially a more powerful version of Dickerson … or a sleeker, faster descendant of Campbell.