By Danny Cox
CBS Local Sports presents 32 Players in 32 Days, a daily feature focusing on one impact player from each NFL team.
Name: Champ Bailey – CB – #27
Weight: 192 lbs.
Hometown: Folkston, GA
Experience: 16 years
Champ Bailey isn’t well known by his birth name of Roland, but he is known for his stout defense, hard hits, and his veteran leadership that can bring so much to any team. That’s why the New Orleans Saints didn’t just want to “take a chance” on him at the age of 36, but wanted him on the team because they know he’s still one of the best in the game.
At Charlton County Indians High School in Georgia, Bailey did it all. He racked up 3,573 yards as a running back. He passed for over 1,000 yards as a quarterback. He had eight interceptions on defense. Champ Bailey also returned punts and kickoffs.
Upon going to college at the University of Georgia, Bailey continued his triple threat work by performing well on offense, defense, and special teams. His early years were good, but it was his final season with the Bulldogs that made him stand out above the rest of the country.
During his last year at Georgia, Bailey had 52 tackles, three interceptions, seven passes defensed, 47 receptions for 744 yards, five offensive touchdowns, 84 rushing yards, 12 kickoff returns, and four punt returns. Throughout the year, he was involved in 957 plays en route to a consensus first-team All-America nod.
All of that was done, of course, when he wasn’t running for the Georgia track and field team and setting school indoor long jump records.
Once his college career was over, Champ Bailey was taken seventh overall by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. He was already a star by the time he got to the NFL, but he learned a lot by playing with teammates (and Hall of Famers) Deion Sanders and Darrell Green.
In 2004, Bailey was traded to the Denver Broncos in a surprising move. It was one that hurt the Redskins, but not Bailey. In the first pass to come his way in a Denver uniform, he intercepted it.
From there, he just kept racking up the stats en route to what will surely be a Hall of Fame induction one day. The thing with Champ Bailey is that he never seemed to get older. He just seemed to keep getting better with each and every year.
Everyone thought it was amazing that he racked up 10 interceptions and didn’t give up a single touchdown in 2005. Four years later, his tenth in the league, Bailey played 98 percent of the defensive snaps for the Broncos and didn’t give up one touchdown in 80 passes that came his way.
It was thought that he would finish his career as a Bronco, but a foot injury in 2013 limited him to just five games. Bailey returned for the playoffs, and was a part of the Denver Broncos team that was demolished in Super Bowl XLVIII by the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 43-8.
Come March, Champ Bailey was released, but he knew his career wasn’t done. One month later, the New Orleans Saints signed one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game to a two-year deal.
Now, he’s already predicted to begin 2014 as a starter for the Saints, opposite Keenan Lewis. With Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd filling in the safety spots, the Saints have one of the most dangerous secondary units in the entire NFL. With Champ Bailey anchoring it, he’s looking for his first ever Super Bowl ring and he wants to get it in black and gold.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.