The Champ is there, and for the first time in a 15-year NFL career, his name could relinquish any modicum of irony.
Roland “Champ” Bailey Jr., whom the Washington Redskins drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, will represent the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Bailey contributed to an NFC East title in Washington as a rookie in 1999 and was named to the Pro Bowl in three of four AFC West championship campaigns for Denver. But the 2013 season wrought his first conference championship, and as a result, his first trip to the Super Bowl.
Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., offers a chance for the man who’s earned every superlative to capture the most coveted prize in the game. In the week leading up to the game, Bailey’s history with the Redskins before a 2004 trade sent him to Denver has been a topic at the Super Bowl media circus.
“I was very fortunate to be drafted by the Redskins, a great organization,” he said. “But things just didn’t work out.”
“(The Redskins are) still a great organization. There’s so much history there, and I appreciate them believing in my talents enough to draft me.”
Washington’s greatest contributions to Bailey’s career were the mentors it provided. While Deion Sanders interviewed Bailey for NFL Network, the protege reminded “Prime” how he taught him to cushion his skinny legs with three pairs of socks.
In Sports Illustrated earlier in January, Bailey remembered the impact Darrell Green had on his career.
“I learned from one of the greatest,” Bailey said. “He never moved to safety, so that’s pretty much my inspiration, trying to outdo him. The game is a lot different than it was back then, but at the same time, there’s still a lot of big, fast receivers out there, and I’ve been able to maintain and keep my speed up.”
In 2013, Bailey missed 11 games with a foot injury . He played in the last two contests, and the Broncos will rely on him to lead their depleted secondary against the Seattle Seahawks.
I believe the former Redskin will turn in an ageless performance reminiscent of a game at Kansas City in December of 2010, when (full disclosure) I was a member of the Broncos team media crew.
Bailey was in the final year of his contract. The media speculated about an impending move to safety – this still hasn’t happened – because Bailey was thought to be losing a step at cornerback. Denver had beaten Kansas City earlier in the year, but Dwayne Bowe got the best of him, torching the Broncos for 186 yards receiving and two touchdowns.You could barely notice Bowe in the rematch at Arrowhead Stadium. Bailey was phenomenal, holding Bowe without a catch on two targets and recording a sack in a Denver loss. By the way, Bowe scored 15 touchdowns that year.
Back to Sunday. My biased prediction is the Broncos will beat the Seahawks.
Champ will be champ.
Tags: Broncos, champ bailey, darrell green, deion sanders, redskins, Super Bowl XLVIII
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