The fifteenth and most recent, however, was perhaps the most difficult for Bailey because of just how far the Broncos had traveled – and the camaraderie that the team formed en route to winning the AFC Championship and playing in the Super Bowl – only to see the season conclude in disappointment.
“You get this far and you’re together this long, it does sting a little more because you built up so many more relationships than you have in the past,” Bailey said on Tuesday as the players cleaned out their lockers. “I’ve been through several seasons and forget some of the guys I’ve played with, but there is not a guy in this locker room I won’t remember.”
It was a team that accomplished so much throughout the season – but also one that Bailey noted was unable to seize the moment in the Broncos’ Super Bowl XLVIII loss to the Seahawks.
“We got close, but obviously we just have to be more ready to play,” Bailey said. “I just felt like they were more ready, they wanted it more and the obvious outcome was that they won.”
Bailey acknowledged that he hadn’t watched tape of the game yet. He also hasn’t allowed himself to think too far into what his future holds for next season – although he noted that he isn’t the only one on the Broncos roster who enters the offseason with matters to consider.
“A little bit – you don’t want to think about that right now,” Bailey said. “I think it’s obvious for everybody in this locker room. Most people in this locker room have to deal with something coming up.”
When that something does come up, Bailey said he’s not worried about his role with the team and that he’s comfortable with those matters being out of his hands.
“I don’t control anything,” Bailey said. “I’m under contract for another year, so I’m not concerned with what’s going on, really.”
Whatever happens, the cornerback said he will address it at the appropriate time.
“Those decisions are not made by me,” he said. “I’ll deal with that when it comes. There’s nothing I can do about that right now.”
The 12-time Pro Bowler was certain about one thing, however. After a season plagued by a recurring foot injury, Bailey acknowledged that he felt fine physically throughout the playoffs and entering the offseason.
“I felt good,” Bailey said. “I felt pretty good. I’ve shown that the last two weeks of the season to two weeks in the playoffs. I feel pretty good.”
Now, he’ll look to begin the healing process after such a difficult loss – and, when the time is right, Bailey will revisit the Super Bowl tape that he would currently prefer to avoid.
“It still hurts a little bit,” he said. “But at some point I will look at it.”
No matter how painful, however, it’s part of a process that the Broncos will have to endure and grow from – one that the team underwent after its January 2013 loss to the Ravens in the Divisional Round, and one that Bailey described quite simply.
“You have to move on.”