Edgerrin James: ‘The NFL is overrated, not really that hard’

Edgerrin James had one of the most successful starts to an NFL career.

He was an All-Pro as a rookie, he won two rushing titles, and he was a catalyst, along with an emerging Peyton Manning, for the Indianapolis Colts transforming from a moribund franchise to a perennial contender.

It all looked easy for James, who was coming off a record-setting career at the University of Miami. And according to him, it used to be

The Hall of Fame running back told Shannon Sharpe on the “Club Shay Shay Podcast” that playing in the NFL was easier than college football.

“I can’t down the sport, but I think for me a lot of the time I was like, man, the NFL is overrated,” James said.

“I felt like it was overrated because you’re 21, 22 years old, and then I got this dude in the locker room that’s 30, 31, 32, I know he can’t keep up with me. So, the age difference , it made me like, man, this game is like a joke. Now I’m playing with these older guys, they got to be in the cold tub. With us, we just suit up, go play and then do whatever we do .”

Edgerrin James: “The NFL… It’s not really that hard”

Edgerin James:

Edgerrin James tells Shannon Sharpe on “Club Shay Shay” why the NFL was easier than the University of Miami. “The NFL is overrated. … This game is like a joke. It’s not really that hard.”

What might sound like an affront to many perhaps isn’t when the source has a bust in Canton.

James maintained a carefree attitude toward football from Day 1. He said he initially wanted to be a basketball player but turned away from the hardwood after realizing he relied too much on his dominant hand. Moreover, growing up in South Florida, football was the dominant sport. It also came naturally to him and provided a clear path out of his current circumstances.

“Football was real easy. It’s always been easy,” James said. “So, I knew that was the thing to do. That was the ticket. That was the best shot at changing things.”

One year at The U only confirmed his conviction. Though he had a minor role as a Miami freshman, he was excelling in practice and then saw eight of his teammates get drafted, including three in the first round. James told himself he’d be out of Coral Gables after three years.

His preconceived notions about the game ultimately proved accurate. the no. 4 pick of the 1999 NFL Draft took the league by storm, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and topping 1,500 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons. James was on his way to another All-Pro campaign when he tore his ACL halfway through his third season.

The workhorse back would return to peak form in 2003 and registered 4,313 yards and 34 touchdowns over his final three seasons in Indy. His ride would continue with a couple more productive campaigns with the Arizona Cardinals. By the time he hung up his cleats, James was 11th all-time in rushing and 15th in rushing touchdowns. The four-time Pro Bowler averaged a sterling 105.4 yards per game from scrimmage.

James asserts that the key to his NFL success, aside from his talent, was preparation. That made execution, well, easy.

“It’s not really that hard, especially if you know what you’re doing, and you’re on top of your stuff,” James said. “It’s not that hard, because there are no secrets in the NFL. When you line up, I know exactly what you’re going to do.

“They got all the film, all the information … you study, you put in the work. And I’m like, this game is really easy. In college, you don’t study. In high school, you don’t study . You just figure it out by second, third quarter. In the pros, you know from the first play to the last, you know exactly what’s going to happen. And whoever do it the best, that’s who’s going to win.”

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