Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1999, Edgerrin James was one of the best backs in the NFL for nearly a decade. The Colts surprised many by picking him with the fourth pick over the Heisman Trophy winner that year, Ricky Williams.
His NFL career began in spectacular fashion as he earned the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award in 1999, rushing for 1553 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns. He also added 586 yards and 4 touchdowns receiving. James was a complete back, effective in both the run and the pass, but also a great blocker.
Along with Peyton Manning, Edge was responsible for turning a 3-13 team around. I remember watching him in wonder as he ran over and around the NFL’s defences. This is perfectly shown in the highlights clip below.
In 2000, James became the third player since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to lead the league in rushing in each of his first two season. His second year was even more impressive than his first. He rushed 387 times for 1,709 yards and another 13 touchdowns, while also adding 63 receptions for 594 yards and another five receiving TDs.
Despites a torn ACL in 2001, Edge returned to elite level in Indianapolis and added two more 1500+ rushing seasons. He was voted to the Pro Bowl four times and excelled throughout his time with the Colts.
Colts Owner, Jim Isray, was extremely glowing in his description of James, saying “He is as tough as you get, and he is extremely charismatic, and I consider him just one of my best friends on the planet,” Irsay continued. “I love him. I just love him, and I know our fans do, too.”
James finished his NFL career with 12,246 yards and 80 touchdowns rushing and another 3,364 yards and 11 touchdowns receiving.