On Saturday, the NFL Hall of Fame Selection Committee will choose up to 5 of 15 Modern-Era Hall of Fame Finalists–which includes former Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James, for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
While we’ve heard all about the likes of what elite cornerbacks such as Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, and Charles “Peanut” Tillman said about fellow Colts Hall of Fame Finalist Marvin Harrison, it’s also highly relevant to hear about what James’ opponents thought of him during his playing days (1999-2009):
"“If you overplay him, he’s going to make you look ridiculous,” said former 5x First-Team All-Pro and 7x Pro Bowl Miami Dolphins inside linebacker Zach Thomas of James–the running back he least enjoyed facing. “He doesn’t so much cut as he stops on a dime and then takes off again at full speed.”“He’s a blend of Marshall Faulk and Eddie George,” said former All-Pro and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley, who routinely played James while with the Buffalo Bills in the old AFC East and later with the San Diego Chargers among his other NFL stops. “A fast Emmitt Smith,” said former All-Pro and Pro Bowl cornerback Samari Rolle, who enjoyed divisional battles with James while with the Tennessee Titans. “Edgerrin James,” replied former All-Pro and 4x Pro Bowl defensive end Bryant Young of the San Francisco 49ers–when asked who was the hardest running back to bring down. “He was a guy that was elusive. He ran so low to the ground. Even when you got him, he could wiggle his way for another two or three yards.”“He’s probably the best back we’re going to face all year by far,” said former All-Pro and Pro Bowl defensive end Gary Walker of the Jacksonville Jaguars in September of 2000. “Edge if fresh, but we are too,” said current All-Pro and Pro Bowl Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Thomas Davis ahead of their two teams’ Divisional Round Game in January of 2009, “A lot of people are still sleeping on Edgerrin James, but he’s still one of the toughest guy’s to tackle in the league by far.”"
Also, while these aren’t former opponents, they still speak volumes given the parties that said them:
"“James’s hands and receiving skills are as good as any halfback’s I’ve graded in the last 20 years,” said ESPN NFL Draft Guru Mel Kiper Jr.“Emmitt Smith is a great running back. One of the things I like about him along with Edgerrin James is that neither one of them “show out” when they run a touchdown,” said former Houston Oilers Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. “It’s been different when you’d had a guy behind you for seven years. You start to get accustomed to it. Edgerrin James has been one of the best teammates I’ve ever had in my entire football career,” Peyton Manning said of James’ departure in 2006. “We won’t be teammates anymore, but we’ll still be friends.”"