The Champ Keeps Knock'em Out

Humble, soft spoken, hard working, team oriented, and a good tackler - these are superlatives rarely used when describing NFL cornerbacks. However, these words describe the Denver Broncos' Champ Bailey perfectly.

Champ Bailey came to the Broncos by way of a trade in a league that rarely makes trades that exchange super stars straight across. The Washington Redskins and the Broncos did exactly that when Denver traded Clinton Portis with his two year rushing total of over 3000 yds, for what many considered the best cover guy in the league, Champ Bailey.

Fast forward to 2005, and it's easy to see that the Broncos easily replaced a guy like Portis. Bailey has become the super star of the Denver Broncos secondary. Champ leads the team with eight picks and is second behind only Deltha O'Neal in the league. Memo to Deltha O' Neal, we'll see you in the playoffs.

Bailey doesn't lead by being the loudest on the defense, that role is reserved for Al Wilson. Nor does he lead by being the biggest hitter in the secondary, that spot is John Lynch's. Bailey does it by going out and getting the job done any way he can.

"I pride myself on getting it done one way or another," Champ said after the game against Baltimore, when he made his eighth interception of the year. "I want to be a complete player."

Bailey is more than just a shut-down cover guy, he supports the run. In a league where it's become trendy to have bad tackling cornerbacks, he brings the complete package. He not only can shut down the other team's best receiver, but make a tackle for a loss. Bailey is eighth on the team in tackles, and this is coming from a guy that is usually downfield in coverage.

When asked if he took pride in the way he tackles, he responded, "Oh definitely. About my third year in the league I wasn't tackling like I should have (been). I think a lot of the older guys rubbed off on me, like Deion (Sanders) that don't like to tackle."

Bailey has had his share of hardships. He's had to fight a groin injury since training camp, and that injury is also responsible for him missing the first game of his career.

"I haven't had a point where I've felt good all year, but I'm a player," he said. "I've been hurting most of the year. I've been sucking it up and just going in no matter."

Don't feel too sorry for the guy though. As he spoke about being hurt, a little sarcasm leaked through.

"Sure I'm banged up. I'm never 100%, but just keep bringing it," he responded when asked if he felt as if he was being picked on this year because he was hurt.

That's the type of confidence you normally don't hear from NFL cornerbacks.

At this point of the season, Bailey has had a great year. Not only with interceptions, but fighting through his injuries, tackling well, basically being the all around complete player he always wanted to be. Trading Portis in exchange for a guy like the "Champ" has certainly worked out well for the Broncos.



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