As I detailed the other day, Champ Bailey came to be a Bronco when Head Coach/defacto GM Mike Shanahan traded for him back in 2004. It took Champ a year to settle in with 3 Interceptions his initial season, but it was only the beginning of a run that will put Champ into the Hall of Fame one day. Bailey is entering his 10th NFL season with the Broncos and 15th overall. As a Bronco, he has intercepted 34 passes (35 including the postseason), and the one that sticks out more than any other play in my mind is this one:
The Broncos were leading the game 10-6. Brady and Belichick had come into this game undefeated together in the playoffs with 10 straight postseason victories that spanned the course of three world championships. Despite being the #2 seed, the Broncos were underdogs of sorts facing not only the Patriots but the aura and mystique surrounding their dynasty.
On this play, the course of history would be altered. Champ jumped a lazy throw out to the sideline and scampered with a convoy. As he got closer and closer to the endzone, I'm still not sure to this day if it was fatigue that caused Champ to slow down, but that coupled with the hustle of Patriots TE Benjamin Watson culminated in the unbelievable conclusion with the ball being knocked out of Bailey's hands near the goal line. After review, it was ruled that the ball was knocked out at the 1 yard line. The Broncos would go on to punch the ball in the endzone and take a two score lead 17-6. They would win the game and hand Brady his very first playoff loss, marking the end of the Patriots championship run.
Probably the sweetest thing about that game was the fact that my friend, an avid Pats fan, had to wear my Broncos jersey and hat all day the following day. Nothing better than seeing a Pats fan convert to orange and blue!
This is just the tip of the iceberg in what will hopefully be a career capped off by the all elusive super bowl ring. Champ still has the moxie to play cornerback at the highest level, and when it's all said and done, this Bronco will live forever in the annals of NFL History as perhaps the greatest to ever suit up the #24.
Champ Bailey Highlights (strong language)
Cool 24 Factoids:
Champ Bailey can break the all time record for most pro bowl appearances by an NFL player by getting the nod in 2013. He is currently tied with both Will Shields and Randall McDaniel at 12. His 10 interceptions in 2006 are a personal career record.
Otis Armstrong led the NFL in rushing in 1974 with 1,407 yards and a 5.1 average per attempt.
Notable Broncos to wear #24:
Otis Armstrong 1973-1980
Deltha O'Neal 2000-2003
Current Bronco wearing #24: