Broncos released Champ Bailey yesterday. It’s understandable. He’s got a huge contract, he’s on the downhill side of his career.
Off the field and in the locker room, there’s probably not one better than Champ. When we lived in Plano, a bunch of Broncos would play basketball up at the rec center. Champ was one of those guys. Quick with a smile, quick with good-natured trash talking as well. He was good in the community as well. Listening to the Bronco secondary, every one of those guys will sing Champ’s praises.
But the last two seasons have been injury riddled. Champ hasn’t been on the field a lot and when he has been on it, he hasn’t been…well, he hasn’t been Champ.
The Broncos traded for Champ back in 2003 for Clinton Portis. Broncos got a second round pick as well. Probably is one of the biggest trades ever, can’t remember two Pro-Bowlers being traded like that. Ever. Portis went to Washington and basically kept running for about 5 more years. Cham came to Denver and went to 8 straight Pro Bowls. He’s got 12 total and is second to Reggie White all-time on the defensive side of the ball.
In his prime, Champ Bailey was the best corner in the league. There is no debate. He could cover. He could pick it off. He could tackle. He could contain. And there was about a 8 year period when NOBODY threw to his side of the field. How in the world did he stay awake over there, it’s a mystery.
Champ – at least publicly – never complained. Even during the train wreck years. With Peyton Manning, I was hoping he would finally get a shot at that ring. He’s been close.
But it’s a different era now. With the big contracts, limited cap space, the Broncos had to either renegotiate or cut him. Kudos to the Broncos for doing it now before the start of free agency so that Champ can get on a team.
I’ll keep my Champ jersey and still wear it with pride. And I look forward to when the Broncos put him in the Ring of Honor and I am REALLY looking forward to when he makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Best of wishes to Champ. Thanks for being a great Bronco.