This one’s for Champ.
It would be shocking if Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said that if Denver wins the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. But a lot of Broncos players probably feel that way.
Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey has had some chances to get the Super Bowl and has always fallen short. Last season, the Broncos lost to the Ravens with the No. 1 seed and in 2005 Denver lost to Pittsburgh at home in the AFC title game.
Those are his two best chances until this season.
It has not been a banner year for Bailey. He only started three games all season after suffering a foot injury in the preseason against the Broncos’ Super Bowl opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.
Several times he tried to come back but could never really get healthy. When he was out there he just didn’t look the same. Some say he was washed up and done but he has proved those people wrong in the playoffs.
Against the Chargers he played about 50 percent of the snaps and registered four tackles. He started the AFC title game against the Patriots and had three tackles but looked close to the Bailey of old. He was running stride for stride with receivers. He looked comfortable for the first time this season.
“This is what it’s all about, get yourself a chance to get in the big one,” Bailey told the Denver Post. “That’s where we are now. I knew I would come back — you might not have known — but I knew I’d be back at some point. My coaches and teammates never gave up on me. And here I am, playing my best football of the year. I’m just looking
forward to the next one, man.”
There was plenty of talk that the Broncos secondary was going to be in trouble after Chris Harris Jr. went down with a knee injury against the Chargers. Denver was supposed to have big problems slowing down New England without Harris.
Bailey, and also Tony Carter, filled in great as Tom Brady looked confused throughout the game. He finished the game with 277 yards passing but a lot of that was late in the contest when the Broncos went prevent. New England had only three points through three quarters.
Bailey deserves this. He is a veteran that has been nothing but a class act during his 15 seasons in the NFL. Bailey has been looked at as one of the best cornerbacks in the league history. Bailey was the player Richard Sherman is, without the mouth, before Sherman.
The Broncos cornerback will have a big role in the Super Bowl as well. He will be the starter along side Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Seahawks can come up with a few big plays in the passing game, so Bailey will be tested. He will also be key in the running game because he will come up and not be afraid to tackle Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio trusts Bailey and feels he can be the player the Broncos need him to be. Bailey will be in one-on-one coverage like he always has been.
Could Bailey call it a career if the Broncos win the Super Bowl? It wouldn’t be a surprise. Bailey saw age catch up with him a bit this season and he could be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. He could also want to come back and play a full season no matter what happens in the Super Bowl.
A title would cement Bailey’s spot as one of the best at this position in history. Right now, he is just happy to get the chance.
Chris Schmaedeke is currently the Assistant Sports Editor at the Daily Camera in Boulder. He has worked in sports journalism in Colorado since 2001 when he started at the Rocky Mountain News. He has covered the Denver Broncos for several websites over the past two years.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisSchmaedeke
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