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James Named Top Offensive Rookie

January 10, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Edgerrin James gave the Indianapolis Colts the edge this season. In doing so, he was a near-unanimous choice as The Associated Press’ NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

James, the fourth overall pick in last April’s draft, rewarded the Colts’ faith with an All-Pro year. The running back from the University of Miami known as ``The Edge″ rushed for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 62 passes for 586 yards and four scores.

Only Marshall Faulk, who was dealt by the Colts to the Rams last spring to make room for James, had more total yardage.

Such impressive numbers, plus serving as a catalyst in the Colts’ record turnaround from 3-13 to 13-3, earned James 49 of the 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members in balloting announced Monday.

``What happened to the other one vote?″ James said with a laugh. ``It should have been 50.″

Cleveland Browns receiver Kevin Johnson got the other vote.

``I said, for myself, I want to make my mark in the NFL,″ James said. ``This is the highest level and this is where it goes down in history. I want to play as many years as I’m able, so I wanted to get here and make plays and play.″

Coincidentally, James got a lift from watching the way Faulk performs. He emulated the veteran so well that they were the All-Pro running backs this year.

``I love to watch Marshall play,″ James said. ``He is one of the ones I love to watch, he has the game figured out to where it so easy.

``I look at his pass routes, he is one of the best ever to run them, and I try to pattern myself after the way Marshall does it. I try to kill them both ways. You’re not always going to be able to run the ball in the NFL. If they won’t let me run it, I’ll get past it by catching it.″

James was at the center of a controversy on draft day when Colts president Bill Polian drafted him instead of Ricky Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner who wound up in New Orleans. The Saints didn’t get much from their investment, which cost them every other 1999 pick and the first and third this year. Williams couldn’t stay healthy and the Saints went 3-13.

The Colts got everything they could have wanted from James, a sensation from the first day of training camp right through to the clinching of the AFC East, the league’s best division.

``It’s amazing when someone comes in like he did and does what he did,″ quarterback Peyton Manning said. ``Right from the beginning, you could see Edgerrin was willing to work hard and do what it takes to succeed.″

That included early-morning meetings and film sessions, all with the idea of making an immediate impact.

``You try to make it look easier than it is,″ said James, who certainly did that. ``This comes from spending a lot of time ever since I got drafted _ I got there at 6:30 in the morning at the meeting room and went to work.″

James joins the likes of Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Franco Harris, Tony Dorsett, Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Faulk among running backs to win the award. Faulk is the only other Colt to win the honor, in 1994.

Minnesota receiver Randy Moss was the 1998 winner.

``I want to keep going and keep doing well,″ James said. ``You can’t be a one-year wonder.″

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