Edgerrin James announced his retirement this week amid the hurricane of free agent signings and player rumors that accompanied the end of the NFL lockout. I didn’t want to let the moment slide too far into the rearview mirror before reflecting on this Indianapolis Colts great and the legacy he left in the Circle City. So, where does James rank among running backs in Indy history? Well, as an original member of the Count On Losing This Sunday club, I probably have a different perspective than many modern Colts fans, but below is my top five. Throw eggs if you will; these selections are from my Blue blood, with scant consideration for statistical analysis.
- Eric Dickerson (1987-1991) : Before Dickerson arrived in 1987, the Colts were an absolute laughing stock in the NFL, and probably even Baltimore wouldn’t have taken them off of our hands. His arrival brought instant excitement and, yes, credibility, to this franchise. We knew he was a potential troublemaker, but who cared? We had a real superstar in town, and he delivered big time, in both personal stats and wins. He got the Colts to the playoffs and was Indy’s first franchise changer.
- Marshall Faulk (1994-1998) : Marshall Faulk was the man in town before Peyton Manning got here, and he welcomed Number 18 to the fold. We all loved his multifaceted game, but didn’t really appreciate him until he left for St. Louis. Faulk proceeded to set the wold on fire during Manning’s breakout 1999 season, and even though James proved himself a worthy replacement, many couldn’t help thinking that Faulk would have helped us get all the way to the Super Bowl.
- Edgerrin James (1999-2005) : James is undeniably the most prolific rusher in Indianapolis Colts history, he defined the running game through the heart of Peyton Manning’s career and he is, by all accounts, a great guy, to boot. He left town the year before the Colts finally won the Super Bowl, but not a day goes by when a Colts fan somewhere doesn’t wish that Joseph Addai could morph into a primetime James.
- Joseph Addai (2006-present) : At least I hope he’s still here when this season starts. Addai is not the most spectacular runner the world has ever seen, but he fits the Colts system well, and he provides more protection for Manning than most realize. There would have been no Lombardi Trophy without him, and he, too, will be missed when he is gone.
- Curtis Dickey (1984-85) : Dickey actually played second fiddle to Randy McMillan that first year in Indianpolis (1984), but he was the closest thing we had to a star that lean season. With Baltimore in 1983, Dickey ran for more than 11oo yards, and still managed to put up 500 in 1984. It was pretty much all over after that, and he was traded to Cleveland part way through the `85 season before retiring. For one glorious season, though, I could look at that gaudy number on the back of his football card while watching him rumble for the hometown team on TV. Indy was in the big leagues!