ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Former Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, in his first year of eligibility for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was named a Modern-Era finalist for the Class of 2019, the NFL announced Thursday.
Bailey was one of four players with Broncos ties to make the 15-man cut and be named a finalist.
Safeties Steve Atwater and John Lynch and cornerback Ty Law were also chosen.
The seventh-overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Bailey joined the Broncos in 2004 after a seismic trade that sent Clinton Portis to Washington and brought Bailey to Denver.
In his 10 years with Denver, Bailey tallied three First-Team All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowl appearances. He also made four Pro Bowls in Washington to bring his career total to 12.
The Georgia product recorded 34 interceptions with the Broncos — fourth-most in franchise history — and 52 over the course of his career.
What is perhaps his most famous interception with the Broncos, though, does not count toward those regular-season numbers. In the Divisional round of the 2006 playoffs, Bailey intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the Broncos’ end zone and returned the ball 100 yards to the New England 1-yard line. The pick prevented the Patriots from taking the lead and led to a 1-yard Mike Anderson run that put the Broncos up two scores. Spurred by that play, Denver held on to win and a week later played in its first AFC Championship game in seven years.
Bailey capped his 15-year career in 2013 with an appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII.
One of the best defensive players of his generation, Bailey joins former Ravens safety Ed Reed and Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez as potential first-ballot Hall of Famers.
The other Modern-Era finalists with Broncos ties are all making at least their second appearance as finalists.
Ring of Fame safety Steve Atwater is a finalist for the second time, and he’ll be up for the Hall of Fame committee’s final discussion for the first time since 2016. He spent 10 of his 11 NFL seasons in Denver, where he recorded eight Pro Bowl nods and two First-Team All-Pro selections. Atwater, who tallied 1,356 career tackles and 24 interceptions, was named to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team.
Another Broncos Ring of Fame safety, John Lynch, is a finalist for the sixth consecutive year. Lynch, who has two First-Team All-Pro selections to his name, was a Pro Bowler in each of his four seasons in Denver. Including his time in Tampa, Lynch recorded 1,054 career tackles, 13.0 sacks, 26 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl nine total times.
Cornerback Ty Law is a three-time finalist who spent his final NFL season in Denver. He is a two-time First-Team All-pro, a five-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade team.
On the eve of Super Bowl LIII, the Hall of Fame selection committee will discuss and debate the 15 Modern-Era finalists before eventually trimming the list to five newly elected Hall of Famers.
Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen was previously named a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist when the Contributor Committee chose him in August as one of their two nominees for this year’s class. The Hall of Fame selection committee will also vote on his candidacy on Sat., Feb. 1.
The newly elected Hall of Famers will be informed of their selections on that Saturday by Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 will then be recognized at NFL Honors that evening. The class will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio in August.