Edgerrin James will be inducted into the Indianapolis Colts' Ring of Honor on Sunday. He was the second-fastest runner to reach the 2,500-yard plateau in NFL history when he blew out a knee in 2001. James finished his career No. 11 all time with 12,246 yards.
If not for that knee ...
"Then we wouldn't be debating about me going to the Hall of Fame," James said during a teleconference Thursday. "It would be automatic."
James was first-team All-Pro in 1999, Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year and a four-time Pro Bowl selection. The Colts' offense became a top-five unit when James teamed up with Peyton Manning. James joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, the same season Manning and the Colts finally won a Super Bowl.
"It worked out just the way it was supposed to work out," James said. "(The injury) gave me a great appreciation for the game. Once I got hurt, it actually took my game to another level because I understand all the phases of the game. I used to just get out there and run and play because it was so easy. It was too easy then."
Manning praised his former running mate.
"He was also the best teammate I ever played with," Manning said, via The Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell. "Unselfish, accountable, tough as nails."
Manning added that James absolutely, 100 percent belongs in the Hall of Fame. The only running backs ahead of James on the all-time rushing list and not enshrined are LaDainian Tomlinson and Jerome Bettis. Tomlinson is a sure bet to get in.
James said he would have played longer to pad his stats if the Hall of Fame was a primary concern of his.
"For me, I just tried to do everything the right way," James said. "You make sure that you don't let the success become reality.
"I didn't be anybody else. I was just being myself."Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.