The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 18 finalists last night. Among those finalists, were the likes of John Lynch (6th time), Isaac Bruce (3rd time), Ty Law (3rd time), and Tony Gonzalez (1st time). These guys were all vital to my love of the sport but there were also two players named who hold a special place in all Miami fan’s hearts: Edgerrin James and Ed Reed. Both players of course played for the greatest college football team ever (if you disagree, fight me), the University of Miami Hurricanes.
My fondest memories of James are him in a Colts jersey since his Miami career was before I was old enough to remember, unfortunately. However, Ed Reed is and has always been my favorite Hurricane of all time (followed closely by Sean Taylor). Let’s breakdown how these guys got here and why they are both extremely deserving:
Edgerrin “The Edge” James
Early Life & College
Edgerrin James was born and raised in Immokalee, Florida and was Mr. Versatility in high school. In addition to running back, James also played linebacker and handled kickoffs and field goals for the Immokalee Indians. After his All-American high school career, he attended the University of Miami from 1996 to 1998.
At UM he managed to rush for over 2,900 yards and 32 touchdowns despite only starting 17 games landing him 3rd all-time on the UM rushing yards list. While I could go on and on about his college accomplishments, this is the NFL Hall of Fame we’re talking about so let’s take a look at his NFL career.
Draft & NFL Career
Edgerrin was drafted number four overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft. While many analysts criticized the move, James proved them all wrong immediately. The Edge earned Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding nearly 600 receiving yards and four more touchdowns.
If his rookie year wasn’t sensational enough, he followed that with another 13 touchdown season but this time with 1,709 yards rushing. He also went for nearly 600 receiving yards again with 5 touchdowns. James was the only rookie to ever win the NFL rushing title until Ezekiel Elliot did it in 2016 and James repeated this feat in his Sophomore year as well.
James finished his time in Indianapolis, after the 2005 season, with 9,200+ rushing yards, 64 rushing touchdowns, 2,800+ receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns. He holds Colts franchise records for:
- Most career rushing yards – 9,226
- Most career rushing touchdowns – 64
- Best career rushing yards per game – 96.1
- Most rushing yards in a single season – 1,709
- Most seasons with 1,000+ yards – 5
In 2006, James joined the Arizona Cardinals and rushed for a combined 2,381 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first two years there.
He retired in 2009 and currently sits at 13th on the all-time rushing yards list just ahead of Marcus Allen and right behind Marshall Faulk. Pretty good company if you ask me. He finished his NFL career with over 12,000 yards and 80 touchdowns (20th all time).
He never won a Super Bowl which is disappointing for a player of his caliber. This is especially disappointing when you consider the Colts won the Super Bowl one year after he left Indy and he was on the losing end of the Santonio Holmes toe tap TD in Super Bowl 43. Here are some of his additional achievements:
- 4x Pro Bowler (1999, 2000, 2004, 2005)
- 2x First Team All-Pro (1999, 2005)
- 2x Second Team All-Pro (2000, 2004)
- NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1999)
- 2x NFL Rushing Leader (1999, 2000)
- NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
Edgerrin James was no doubt one of the best running backs to ever do it and is well deserving of a Hall of Fame spot. Here’s a highlight video because words just don’t do him justice:
Good luck, Edgerrin!
Early Life & College
Ed Reed was born and raised in St Rose, Louisiana where he attended Destrehan high school. While at Destrehan, Reed was an all-state DB and kick returner along with being a standout track athlete. He also competed in baseball and basketball before attending the University of Miami from 1997 to 2001.
After setting records for interceptions (21), career interception return yards (389), interceptions returned for touchdowns (5), and winning the 2001 National Championship, he entered the NFL draft. Side Note: the 2001 Hurricanes were the greatest college team ever assembled and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong.
Draft & NFL Career
The six-foot 205 lb safety was drafted in the first round, 23rd overall, by the Baltimore Ravens. Reed hit the ground running in the NFL, starting all 16 games his rookie year and recording 5 interceptions. In two separate years (2004 and 2008) Reed recorded 9 interceptions and in both of those seasons he returned an interception for over 105-yards. He set the record for longest interceptions return for a TD in 2004 with a 106-yard return and then topped himself in 2008 when he returned one 107 yards.
Ed Reed is most famous for his interception return abilities and he is the NFL record holder for most interception return yards (1,590). Ed Reed also holds the following NFL records for most:
- Playoff career interceptions (9)
- Career blocked punts for touchdowns (3)
- Multi-interception games in a career (12)
Reed is also the first player to return an interception, punt, blocked punt, and fumble for a touchdown. Needless to say, Reed was an absolute dominant force in the NFL. He, along with current Hall of Famer and UM alumni Ray Lewis, anchored a defense which helped the Ravens win Super Bowl 47.
In addition to being a Super Bowl Champion, Reed was also:
- A 9x Pro Bowler
- A 5x First Team All-NFL selection
- A 3x second team All-NFL selection
- NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2004)
- A 3x NFL interception leader
- Named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
He finished up his career playing a season with the Jets/Texans and when it was all said and done he had amassed 64 interceptions (7th all time) and 10 total touchdowns. What is most impressive about his touchdowns is he lands 5th all-time on the list of career non-offensive touchdowns. The only player above him that wasn’t a full time punt returner is Ronde Barber who played in 67 more games and only recorded 1 additional touchdown than Reed.
I do also want to plug here that the top of that list is Devin Hester, the GOAT of punt/kickoff returns. Hester being there is even sweeter knowing he’s right ahead of Deion Sanders a former Seminole.
As was true with Edgerrin James, no amount of words can do Ed Reed justice, so enjoy:
Good luck, Ed!