Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey (24) warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Champ Bailey has been known as one of the best shutdown corners of this generation. Now after 15 long years in the league, he is hanging up the cleats.
According to Adam Schefter, the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos cornerback decided to call it a career just before the trade deadline. We last heard of Champ Bailey when he was released by the New Orleans Saints to trim their roster down to 53 players. In fact, Champ Bailey hasn’t played a snap in a meaningful football game since the Broncos suffered an embarrassing Super Bowl defeat. The fact that Champ Bailey was just one game away from capturing that elusive title must be hard to swallow.
Champ Bailey came to the Denver Broncos in 2004 in a trade that sent Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins. He made an immediate impact by intercepting his first pass as a Denver Bronco on opening night in 2004. He would be one of the best corners the Broncos had for years to come as he racked up. His best year came in 2005, the year the Broncos advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the first time in the post John Elway era. He racked up 10 interceptions and did not allow a single touchdown pass to be thrown his way during the entire season.
The most memorable part of that season came in the AFC Divisional Round against the New England Patriots in which Champ Bailey intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it down the sideline for 100 yards before being taken down at the one yard line. That play still stands as the longest non-scoring play in NFL history. That interception helped the Broncos run away with the game and win their first playoff game without John Elway.
He seemed to slow down at the start of the 2013 season. During the Broncos Super Bowl run, Champ Bailey only saw game action in five regular season games but was healthy in time for the playoffs. He even held his own when his teammate Chris Harris was gone for the rest of the postseason with a slight ACL tear. He would play in his first Super Bowl but was unable to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
What Champ Bailey brought to the Denver Broncos organization was remarkable. He was a vital part of the team’s success in the secondary and perhaps is known as one of the better corners to ever play the game. He may not have gotten a championship, but there are a lot of players that did not win the big game and still made enough of an impact to become enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For all your hard work and the success that you brought to Broncos Country, we salute you Champ Bailey on a great career! Hope to see you succeed in your future endeavors and to see your bust in the Hall of Fame someday.