On Now
Coming Up
  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM MDT Orange Night Ride

    The year's Orange Ride is scheduled for Oct. 23, 2014 with a start time of 4:30 p.m. from the Denver City and County Building. We have put together a list of activities leading up to that night's Broncos game against San Diego. We hope to see you there!
    3-4 p.m. Pregame fan rally in front of Denver City and County Building
    4:30 p.m. Ride departs Denver City and County Building to Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    5:00 p.m. Ride arrives at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    5-6 p.m. Orange Ride pregame tailgate party at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    6:00 p.m. Orange Ride departs stadium to Tavern Downtown to watch the Broncos game
    6:25 p.m. Watch the Broncos game while enjoying Tavern Downtown’s food and drink specials
    And don't forget that the Broncos and Denver B-cycle have teamed up to offer a new bike valet service for home games for the 2014 season, giving fans a place to park their bike in a secure place staffed by B-cycle volunteers!
  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 6:25 PM MDT Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers The Denver Broncos take on AFC West opponent the San Diego Chargers on Thursady Night Football on NFL Network.
  • Sat., Oct. 25, 2014 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM MDT Broncos Bunch Trick-or-Treat

    Broncos Bunch Trick-or-Treat

    Sign up at http://broncosbunch.com

  • Sun., Nov. 02, 2014 2:25 PM MST Denver Broncos at New England Patriots The Denver Broncos travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots in a rematch of the 2013 AFC Championship. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 09, 2014 2:05 PM MST Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders The Denver Broncos face their AFC West foe Oakland Raiders on the road. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 16, 2014 11:00 AM MST Denver Broncos at St. Louis Rams The Denver Broncos face the St. Louis Rams on the road at 11 a.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 23, 2014 2:25 PM MST Denver Broncos vs. Miami Dolphins The Denver Broncos take on the AFC East Miami Dolphins. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Tue., Nov. 25, 2014 6:00 AM - 4:00 PM MST Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution Denver Rescue Mission Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution
  • Sun., Nov. 30, 2014 6:30 PM MST Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs The Denver Broncos travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face AFC West foe the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football on NBC.
  • Sun., Dec. 07, 2014 2:05 PM MST Play 60/Fuel Up to Play 60 Tribute Game Play 60/Fuel Up to Play 60 tribute game. Teams will be recognized before the team's game against the Buffalo Bills.

News & Blogs

Print
RSS

Champ Bailey: Still the Standard

Posted Nov 27, 2012

For 14 years in the NFL, cornerback Champ Bailey has taken on the best receivers in the league, and he's still loving every minute of it.

Every Hall-of-Fame career has to start somewhere.

It just so happened cornerback Champ Bailey’s started with an interception off a Hall of Fame quarterback.

In the very first game of his career, Bailey – then a Washington Redskin – was matched up against another legend in Michael Irvin for the majority of the day against the Dallas Cowboys.

“You’ve got to think, since I was little, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, I’d looked up to them,” Bailey said. “That was a surreal moment. You don’t get an opportunity like that to play against guys you really watched and liked growing up.”

He had mixed results in the contest, as Irvin notched five catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

But Bailey, ever the competitor, wanted to make sure it was known that those scores weren’t against him – he was on the sideline late in the game with cramps. And in addition to five tackles in his first-ever game, he snared the Aikman interception – a fitting start for the now 11-time Pro Bowler.

“I felt like I belonged at that moment,” he said. “You pick a Hall of Fame quarterback – not a lot of people can say they did that. It was a special moment for me.”

From that game on, Bailey has never backed down from a challenge, battling opposing teams’ top receiver for more than a decade.

“Back then it was just my raw ability and trying to learn as I go,” Bailey said. “Now it’s a lot more about my knowledge and my instincts. That never leaves.”

MAINTAINING GREATNESS

Nine games into his 14th season, Bailey has already squared off against wideouts the likes of Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace, Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Houston’s Andre Johnson, New Orleans’ Marques Colston, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Carolina’s Steve Smith.

None of them reached 100 receiving yards, and Bailey has surrendered just one touchdown this season.

“That’s what allows us to be among the top of the league in sacks,” defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. “Having a guy like that, he still goes against the top guy every week.”

So how has Bailey maintained such a high level of play for so long?

“First of all, he’s just a smart player,” Dumervil said. “He used to be a student of the game, he may be a professor of the game now.”

His position coach agreed.

“Good genes,” Secondary Coach Ron Milus laughed, noting that Bailey also keeps himself in great shape. “He’s one of the guys that I kind of point to as a coach on the field, even though he’s playing. He knows exactly what’s going on at all times.”

Dumervil said it’s not uncommon for Bailey to let the defense know what’s about to happen in a play before the snap. That comes from tireless preparation not only every week during the season, but throughout the offseason.

“That’s why he has adjusted and why he’s lasted as long as he has and why he’s been such a centerpiece of the Broncos since he’s been here,” Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said.

Rules have changed – “They definitely favor the offense a lot,” Bailey said.

Receivers have changed – “Everybody’s 6-3, 6-4, 220 (pounds).”

But Bailey has continued to play at an elite level throughout it all.

"I love Champ, how he plays and what he does," Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis said. "He's still doing it. I remember being on Georgia's campus when Champ came out. It's fun to see him still doing it the way he's doing it."

And he’s done it within the rules.

Bailey has been targeted 469 times since 2006. He has been penalized for pass interference on just three occasions – less than one percent of the times the ball has been thrown his direction.

“I haven’t had to tweak my game a whole lot,” said Bailey, who leads all cornerbacks with 51 interceptions since his rookie season. “Even though I’m a physical corner, I’ve always tried to just play with my feet and not grab a lot, pull and depend on snatching people and trying to break the rules.”

That technique is what stands out to Bailey’s teammates, on offense and defense.

“He’s able to get up and press you or play off,” wide receiver Eric Decker said. “It’s just that mix of you don’t know what he’s going to do. He’s very athletic, he can cover very well, he knows how bigger guys release compared to smaller guys, he knows how to play certain splits – he just knows how to play the game. That’s what I think as receivers we appreciate, because we get so much better going against him every day. It’s fun to watch him against the other team on Sundays.”

At 6-foot-3, 229 pounds, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has three inches, 37 pounds and 10 years of youth on Bailey. But the 2010 first-round pick knew better than to underestimate the veteran corner when he first lined up opposite him in training camp.

Just as Bailey grew up idolizing Dallas’ big three on offense, Thomas grew up with a great appreciation for what Bailey can do on defense.

“I was dreading going against him when I first got here,” Thomas said. “But I knew it would make me better.”

A DECADE-PLUS OF DOMINANCE

When Bailey first got started in the league, he always dreamed of a decade.

“That was a big thing,” he recalled. “I remember guys would always say that. ‘If I can just get 10 years in.’ I was one of them, I’m not going to lie. But as I approached 10, I thought, ‘I’m still playing at a high level. Why walk away from something I love to do? And I make a good living doing it.’”

Prior to the 2011 season, Elway signed Bailey to a four-year contract extension with the team, essentially ensuring the cornerback will end his career in orange and blue.

“Winning is going to happen a lot sooner than people think,” he said at the time.

Twenty-two months later, the Broncos have their first playoff victory since the 2005 season under their belts, and currently sit atop the AFC West again this season.

“I’m not going to say I’m a genius,” Bailey laughed, “but once Elway took over, it kind of encouraged me to believe in the system and the team and where it’s going. I’m just glad I made my decision to stay here.”

Now, he is serving as one of five team captains along with Peyton Manning, who he called “hands down” the best quarterback he has played with.

With that type of talent and leadership on both sides of the ball, Bailey has welcomed the high expectations surrounding the club this season.

“When you’ve got guys in the building knowing that we’ve got a chance to go all the way, it makes you work a little harder,” he said. “It makes you want to come to work every day.”

Bailey still covets his job and the challenge of going up against the best week-in and week-out.

And he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.

"Story of my life for the past 14 years," he said. "I love it."

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally ran in the Week 11 Gameday program, when the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers 30-23.

Facebook Comments

Let us know your thoughts. Comment below through Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo accounts.