DENVER — After a weekend celebrating the contributions he made to the organization that he called home for 10 years, Champ Bailey approached the podium at the center of Empower Field at Mile High with only gratitude on his mind.
It has been a wild year for Bailey. Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February, he was later elected into the Broncos Ring of Fame in May. In the ensuing months, Bailey was fitted for his gold jacket, modeled for his Hall of Fame bust. Those two items were presented to him during the Hall of Fame's induction week in August, culminating with his induction speech.
And finally, this week, he was inducted into the Ring of Fame and honored as part of the Broncos Top 100 Team during Fantennial Weekend festivities.
So, with his speech during halftime of the Broncos' game against Tennessee, Bailey made this event not an appreciation of himself, but an appreciation of everything that he felt made his time in Denver special.
"First off, I want to thank my family who love and support me unconditionally," Bailey said. "I also want to thank my former teammates who helped me get here. I also want to thank my new teammates in the Ring of Fame and the Hall of Fame. I want to thank the Broncos organization for what they have done for me, supporting me and making this a wonderful year. [The year] 2019 will never be forgotten in my family. I personally want to thank Mr. B [Pat Bowlen] and his family for bringing me here and believing in my abilities to help the Broncos win some games."
But before he signed off, Bailey had one last group of people to thank.
"Last, but not least, I want to thank you, the fans," Bailey said. "You guys never let us down. No matter when or where we were playing, you guys showed up, showed out, and were loud. I am proud to say that I am part of this family. None of that would be possible without you. To my Broncos fans, I hope I was able to make you enjoy the game as much as you made me enjoy it."
Stepping back inside the stadium where he became one of the most beloved Broncos, Bailey said he doesn't view this as the end of anything, though.
"I think the good part is just getting there," Bailey said. "We're just getting there, and I think this is the beginning of a lifelong relationship for me and the Broncos, and this community. It doesn't end because I got into the Hall of Fame and Ring of Fame. I think it's just getting started."