Champ Bailey, known for being the cornerback for the Denver Broncos, has announced his retirement from the NFL. Bailey has been with the NFL for 15 years and was currently a free agent despite participating in this summer’s training camp with the New Orleans Saints. He played for 10 years with the Denver Broncos and also played five years with the Washington Redskins prior to that. Bailey will finish his NFL career with having played 215 regular-season games, starting for 207 games, and in total having 52 interceptions.
The former no. 24 Bronco played for the University of Georgia with an athletic scholarship from 1996-1998. He was then drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1999 and was the seventh draft pick in the first round. He agreed to sign with the Redskins under a 5-year, $12 million contract, one that also included a $2 million signing bonus. This was only the beginning of Bailey’s reputation as one of the best defensive backs in NFL history.
As Champ Bailey approached the end of his contract with the Redskins in 2003, Bailey was given permission to seek a trade with another team. In 2004, he was traded to the Denver Broncos where he would spend the next 10 years of his NFL career. The former Broncos coach, Mike Shanahan, agreed to send running back Clinton Portis to Washington in exchange for Bailey and for a second-round draft pick.
The cornerback had quite a ride as a Denver Bronco. His career in Denver started off with an interception on an opening Sunday Night Football game in September 2004. In 2006, Champ Bailey was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year as he had a total of a league-leading 10 interceptions in 2005, and a combined total of 18 interceptions from 2005-2006. One of the interceptions included one in a divisional playoff game against the New England Patriots. Bailey picked a pass that was thrown into the endzone by Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady and ran the football 100 yards to the Patriots’ one-yard line before being tackled.
Bailey only played in five games in the 2013 season after suffering from a left foot injury in the preseason. Shortly after the Denver Broncos played the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos released Champ Bailey due to salary cap reasons. It took Bailey 15 years to even play in a Super Bowl. Little did he know that that would have been his last appearance in an NFL game. The cornerback participated in the New Orleans Saints’ summer training camp after signing a 2-year $7 million contract a month after being released by the Broncos. He was released after the Saints had to make a roster cut in August, Bailey became a free agent before the 2014 regular-season even began.
Champ Bailey will retire from his 15-year NFL career with the reputation of being one of the best cornerbacks in a Denver Broncos jersey and arguably one of the best defensive backs in overall NFL history. He had a total of 909 tackles from being on both the Redskins and the Broncos. He also set a record for most Pro-Bowl appearances (12), by a cornerback. Broncos GM John Elway has predicted that Champ Bailey is Hall of Fame worthy.
Commentary By Tricia Manalansan
Photo Courtesy Craig Hawkins – Creativecommons License