You Were A (Champ)ion In Their Eyes

Roland “Champ” Bailey Jr. I bet many of you didn’t know that was his government name. I know I didn’t so I looked it up. There were always bigger names playing his position, but he would always find a way to be mentioned with the other cornerbacks. I always thought he was one of the more underrated corners because I thought he was as good as some of the elite. He had a quiet, yet consistent career. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame during Super Bowl weekend in Atlanta.

Before Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson, there was Champ Bailey. He was one of those cornerbacks that could do it all. Champ always matched up with the opponents’ number one receivers had the ability to cover slot receivers and I’ve even seen him stick and cover tight ends. He was a very intellectual football player that would know what route a receiver would run. He could identify it which would help the rest of the defense. He was a true shutdown corner that would force quarterbacks to throw to the opposite side. He wasn’t just a corner that could cover. He could lay a hit on you and tackle. Champ was a player who always wanted to make a play upon the football and he always seemed to get that interception with his great closing speed, or he made that one tackle in the open field where he forces a fumble. It seemed as if the older he got, the smarter he became because he knew where to be and what exactly to do once the ball was released. We always talk about cornerbacks being able to handle the island and cover guys in a single coverage without any assistance over the top. Champ not only had the island, he owned the land. He was a pure bump and run cover corner that could stay with each receiver he covered and ran step for step with them. He was a consistent force.

He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1999 with the seventh overall pick. In 2004, he was traded to the Denver Broncos for running back Clinton Portis. In 2006, Champ had ten interceptions and didn’t give up a single touchdown that season. He did the same in 2009. The best I had seen him look was in 2010. He matched up against some of the best receivers in the league that year. I remember the Broncos facing the Kansas City Chiefs and holding Dwayne Bowe to zero catches. He also held Larry Fitzgerald to three catches and 19 yards in a game against the Cardinals. He was named to 12 pro bowls, the most ever for a cornerback.