All of Champ Bailey’s Hard Work Has Finally Paid Off


Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey (24) against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One more win.

For Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, a Super Bowl win would be something you couldn’t script anymore perfect in Hollywood.

Think about this for a second. Roland “Champ” Bailey was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1999, the same year that Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, and former Broncos teammate Al Wilson were drafted.

Torry Holt won a Super Bowl in his first year in the NFL. Bailey hasn’t even been to the game.

“I watch it, but I wouldn’t go. I tried not to go if I was not in it,” Bailey said Friday. “I’ve never been to a Super Bowl. This is definitely my first one.”

To think that Bailey has been in the NFL since 1999 and has never even been to the biggest sporting event in his entire life is bizarre, but to think that he could win one now is even more incredible.

Nobody needs to feel badly for Bailey, a guy who has accomplished nearly everything you could ask for as a professional football player. For a long stretch of time, he had established himself as the most dominant cornerback in the NFL, nearly being edged out by Jason Taylor for a defensive player of the year award back in 2005. Bailey has been named to so many Pro Bowls, he may as well have a house in Hawaii.

Now, he’s got an AFC Championship, and an opportunity to finally win on the biggest stage of the game. 15 years after being drafted.

“I love the respect my teammates give me,” Bailey said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about this organization. That’s the reason I stuck around here, because I knew it was coming at some point, that we would get a shot. Here we are.”

Back in 2004, Mike Shanahan made a really bold trade, sending running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins for Bailey and a second round pick, a trade that has clearly been more of a benefit to the Broncos, despite the fact that Portis had a really good NFL career.

To play at the level Bailey has played at for 15 years is simply remarkable. He’s not been healthy most of this season, but it’s been a treat to have Bailey and another living legend, quarterback Peyton Manning playing on the same team. The Broncos have seen a lot of legendary players pass through Dove Valley, guys like John Elway, John Lynch, Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Jerry Rice, Terrell Davis, Brian Dawkins, and plenty of others, but it’s really something else to watch guys who have already established a legacy like Bailey and Manning, having a shot late in their careers to win a Super Bowl.

For Bailey to get his first would be a dream come true for not only him, but for all Broncos fans. Of course, every Broncos fan wants their team to win the Super Bowl, but to win it for Champ Bailey, a guy who has poured his life into this team for the better part of 10 years, a guy who had faith in the team’s darkest hours–that would be special.

To me, Bailey has exemplified what it means not only to be a player for the Denver Broncos, but a professional athlete in general. He’s always spoke his mind, and he has always been a high character, high integrity favorite of the fans.

Bailey has been so great, fans have almost grown bored of him.

One bad game last year against the Ravens, combined with injuries this season have given people the idea that he’s done playing. In the near future, he may well be done. Perhaps he will decide to ride off into the sunset if the Broncos win it all this year.

But one thing is for sure–there would be nothing sweeter for Bailey to get to the top of the sport, and to have an integral part in it. With Chris Harris going down for the year with an ACL injury, Bailey has a chance to re-establish himself as one of the top playmakers on the Denver Broncos’ defense, and get that Super Bowl win.