Hello all. I just read that article in today's horsetracks (Thank you NYC for your dedication to finding all the stories every morning so we don't have to) about Champ Bailey's unorthodox mechanics and it reminded me of a story I though I would share. (FYI, long and indulgent story. Read at your own risk)
About 6 years ago I moved from Virginia Beach, VA (where I now reside again) to Tampa, FL. While living in Tampa I made quite a few friends and one of these friends had season tickets to the Buc's games. This was back in 2004 and so when the season's schedule came out and I saw the Bucs played Denver in week 4 I immediatly began hounding this friend to take me with him. He had a girl he was trying to impress at that time (who would later become his wife) and refused my inquiries / friendly calls / bribes / threats / promises of decapitation. He did, however, go out and find me 2 tickets to the game. Friendship saved, and off to the game I went eagerly anticipating an upclose look at my beloved Broncos but having no idea I would witness the most amazing feat of physical ability my eyes would ever see (with the exception of the cirque du soleil cause those performers are, in fact, not human and so don't count in this story).
So I'm sitting in my seat, WAY up towards the very top of the second tier of Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. By my side is a good friend who enjoys football but has no real allegiances. Two rows behind me sits two drunkin Bucs fan who continually heckle me much to the dismay of the mother who sits one row in front of me with her two adolescent kids. We are all on the Eastern side of the stadium and that Florida sun just sits on us all afternoon, burning and cooking with total irregard. In other words, life is GREAT cause it's FOOTBALL!
So here I sit, enjoying a low scoring game where neither side can get much going all day long. I watch Shannahan lurk and yell and scan his clipboard and yell and lurk some more. I watch Plummer make a good safe play followed by a wild cowboy play that almost leads to an interception. I watch our defense play a decent game. Nothing extraordinary from either team. Nothing explosive. Just a grind-em-out type game. Then I see IT. And IT was oh, oh, oh so sweet.
Champ Bailey has Joey Galloway one-on-one. Galloway goes into motion. The play clock is expiring and he has to travel from one side all the way to the other so he sprints. You can see his effort as he pushes and drives his legs to carry him behind his line and across the field. His head is down and he is sprinting in motion as hard ans as fast as he can. And there go goes Champ, following Joey in motion. Shadowing him. Keeping pace with him step for step. EXCEPT! Champ is running SIDEWAYS!
Now that may not sound like much and I imagine if you've read this long "'lil story" this far perhaps you feel a sense of let down after the build up. But I assure you, it was without a doubt the most amazing physical feat I have witnessed with my barenaked eyes. The way his legs crossed and weaved around him as his torso stayed facing Galloway. The unbelievable fluid motion of Champ's hips. I have never seen a jaguar in full sprint (and I hope I never do) but I imagine the display of that level of physical harmony and ability is awe inspiring. That is what I saw that day with Champ. Words cannot express how perfect and beautifull his motion was. I didn't know humans could do that.
So there I sat, WAY up in the sky looking down. My necked a dark red from the sun's unrelenting assualt. My ears full of the curses and unintelligible berations of the drunkin idiots behind me. My friend smiling serenly like some Hindu Cow, content to just be there even though football isn't his thing. There I sat, my jaw open wide, my eyes seeing but not believing. We went on to win the game but honestly I couldn't tell you one play we ran. I'm sure there were plenty of bootlegs (this was, after all, the Plummer years), but the only thing I can tell you, the only picture I can describe to you from the actual game itself, is this 'lil story about the Champ. It is no wonder he can play so unorthodox and be successful where others would fail. Champ has physical gifts that few, if any, possess.
Sure am glad he's on our side.