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Champ Bailey: I’m as good as I was at 22 or 23

Champ Bailey AP

When Champ Bailey entered the NFL in 1999, he was a physical freak of nature whose natural athleticism was so great that at Georgia, he had averaged more than 100 all-purpose yards a game as a part-time player on offense and special teams while playing enough defense to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as college football’s best defensive player. But now that Bailey is about to turn 34, how does the Broncos’ cornerback now compare to that young player of 13 years ago?

I am still as good as I was when I was 22 or 23,” Bailey told Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com.

At first blush, that would seem hard to swallow: The reality is that athletes in their mid-30s simply aren’t in their peak physical condition anymore. But Bailey acknowledges that he’s not the same athlete he was when he entered the league. The reason Bailey hasn’t declined, he says, is that he’s mentally stronger than ever.

“I can’t run as fast as I did then or jump as high,” Bailey said. “But I am smarter. I know how to take care of my body better. I know how to anticipate things a little better. I understand football a lot better, which keeps me on top of my game.”

Bailey said he can feel his age and the wear and tear of his 13 NFL seasons, and he knows he won’t play forever. But for now, he thinks he can play just as well as he ever has.

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55 Responses to “Champ Bailey: I’m as good as I was at 22 or 23”
  1. mikea311 says: Jun 14, 2012 2:52 PM

    uh, no…

  2. brady100 says: Jun 14, 2012 2:54 PM

    Nobody is as good in their mid 30′s as they were in their early 20′s…fact. Father time is undefeated.

  3. hulkhogansays says: Jun 14, 2012 2:57 PM

    He always was and remains an ungrateful chump. The Redskins won by getting rid of him in favor of Sir Clinton Portis…the best RB from 2002-2008. Chump was constantly abused by the likes of Toomer, Pinkston and Galloway for goodness sake. Overrated PERIOD brother.

  4. geeeeemen says: Jun 14, 2012 2:58 PM

    The Bailey for Portis trade was one of the truly rare 1 for 1 trades in the NFL. And for a few years, seemed like both teams hit a home run. Several years later, though, DEN 1 WAS 0.

  5. hedleykow says: Jun 14, 2012 3:01 PM

    Smarter = knowing when to trip over your own shoelaces before taking a vicious hit that could end your season at the age of 34.

  6. vince703 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:02 PM

    The charles woodson ROLE would be good for bailey in his end carrer

  7. ripseau says: Jun 14, 2012 3:07 PM

    Didnt LT say the same thing when he turned 30?

  8. duncanthecat says: Jun 14, 2012 3:09 PM

    Porter for Bailey. If you look at the trade a bit closer, neither has really helped the team win anything meaningful or made the players around them any better.

    More hype than anything else.

  9. snowpea84 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:15 PM

    I hope he gets a SB.

  10. champion24 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:22 PM

    Still top 5

  11. ebbycalvinlaloosh says: Jun 14, 2012 3:22 PM

    Champ is the best CB of last 10+ years. Name one other corner that’s even in the same ballpark… Can’t do it, can you? He’s a first ballot hall of famer, no question.

    As for the 1-for-1 trade comment, the Broncos actually got Champ AND a second round pick for Portis. The pick turned out to be Tatum Bell, who was only moderately productive for a brief time, but still. Shanny fleeced the Skins on that one.

  12. ortonwhiskeycrew says: Jun 14, 2012 3:23 PM

    Champ is still an excellent player on what has been a pretty bad defense the past few years, I don’t get the hate.
    With the D now shaping up to be better than it has been in years, he should have another strong season.

  13. kwgator says: Jun 14, 2012 3:23 PM

    You looked 52 vs the PATS last year

  14. waussau says: Jun 14, 2012 3:33 PM

    geeeeemen says:
    Jun 14, 2012 2:58 PM
    The Bailey for Portis trade was one of the truly rare 1 for 1 trades in the NFL. And for a few years, seemed like both teams hit a home run. Several years later, though, DEN 1 WAS 0.

    This has been debated for years. Bailey was leaving the Redskins no matter what that year. Looking back on it yes, Denver got the better player. However, the Redskins got probably the best deal they could at the time.

  15. cuzz4169 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:35 PM

    Champ is still top 5 Cb in league…Watch him..Find me a video of him getting smoked for a TD…In the last 3 yrs he’s given up 4 TD passes. He still covers the #1 WR on the other team and does a great job. Ask Dwayne Bowe…he was on fire killing everyone and what did champ do? held him to ZERO catches. Ill take champ all day..He covers & tackles.

  16. acanniv says: Jun 14, 2012 3:38 PM

    Denver also got a 2nd round pick, which Shanny naturally wasted on Tatum Bell but they got the pick nonetheless. Denver destroyed in that trade. Anyone who doesn’t think so is lying to themselves.

  17. daaabears says: Jun 14, 2012 3:42 PM

    Body gets older, player gets smarter, makes perfect sense. Until time finally wins.

  18. EJ says: Jun 14, 2012 3:47 PM

    geeeeemen says:
    Jun 14, 2012 2:58 PM
    The Bailey for Portis trade was one of the truly rare 1 for 1 trades in the NFL. And for a few years, seemed like both teams hit a home run. Several years later, though, DEN 1 WAS 0.

    Agreed. Denver came out on top, Bailey is still playing strong, Only 4 touchdowns given up in the last 3 years. The guy is a tackling machine.

  19. valentino8100 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:49 PM

    No way Champ. Since your arrival in the league, athletes have only gotten bigger, faster, and stronger. In a league where a receiver being “open” is a matter of inches one way or the other, your lost step makes you either a liability if you’re man up. Gone are the days where you could cover the 9 route without a safety over the top. That doesn’t mean you’re not one of the best ever at your position, or that I wouldn’t want you on my team right now. It just means that I want younger Champ, because he’s better than older Champ, because you’re human.

  20. polamalurulz43 says: Jun 14, 2012 3:52 PM

    Darrell Green was a great HOF corner for the Skins and at 50 ran a 4.43 40. It certainly is not the rule, but it can be a legitimate rare exception.

  21. forevercorr says: Jun 14, 2012 3:53 PM

    Yeah, Champ sucks – except for taking away half the field away from opposing QBs for the last decade – and he did so over the last 5 years on a team with a minimal pass rush. He also makes plays against the run better than most CBs when called upon. Keep talking folks. Bailey takes care of his position and is still a top 5 Corner.

  22. brassknuckles47 says: Jun 14, 2012 4:07 PM

    You may want to give T.O. a call. He’s “just as good now as he was at 22 / 23″. And, of course, much “smarter”, too. Reality check……

  23. trubroncfan07 says: Jun 14, 2012 4:17 PM

    Love all the hater on here, Champ is still solid and is true class act. He even gave the Broncos a discount when he resigned last year. Thanks for the great years you have given Broncos Fans Champ!

  24. objectivenflfan says: Jun 14, 2012 4:20 PM

    NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

    11× Pro Bowl (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011)

    6× All-Pro (2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)

    2× NFL Alumni Defensive Back of the Year (2005, 2006)

    NFL interceptions co-leader (2006)

    NFL record most Pro Bowls for a cornerback (11)

    Pro Bowl record for career interceptions (4)

    NFL record youngest player to intercept 3 passes in a game

    Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary Team

  25. rbell2123 says: Jun 14, 2012 4:20 PM

    ebbycalvinlaloosh says:
    Jun 14, 2012 3:22 PM
    Champ is the best CB of last 10+ years. Name one other corner that’s even in the same ballpark… Can’t do it, can you? He’s a first ballot hall of famer, no question.

    As for the 1-for-1 trade comment, the Broncos actually got Champ AND a second round pick for Portis. The pick turned out to be Tatum Bell, who was only moderately productive for a brief time, but still. Shanny fleeced the Skins on that one.

    Charles Woodson is why better over last ten years than Chump Bailey

  26. tennesseeoilers says: Jun 14, 2012 4:30 PM

    True that, Polamalurulz43. Darrell Green was Champ Bailey’s first mentor in the NFL, and he didn’t even BEGIN to decline until his late 30s! As you pointed out, he still ran a 4.43 forty at the age of 50. But what I thought was even more telling was that ten years earlier, when he was 40, he was not only still the fastest Redskin (during Champ “4.3 forty” Bailey’s 2nd year), but even then Green was clocked at 4.24. Just incredible. Of course, no Redskins fan ( or this Titans’ fan) will ever forget Joe Gibbs talking about Green’s pre-draft workouts where the Redskins coaching staff kept clocking him at 4.1 over and over. That’s nuts!

  27. mrmarcus55 says: Jun 14, 2012 4:39 PM

    Yeah looked real good when Megatron threw him in the dirt last year.

  28. iamhoraceknight says: Jun 14, 2012 4:41 PM

    Apparently, MOST on here DO NOT read the actual articles or watch football.

    Champ Said, ” I Don’t run as fast or jump as high… but I am mentally strong, take care of my body better and understand [players tendencies] better”

    He Knows how to take of himself and he plays the game the right way.

    Champ is still a top 5 CB right now, ask The Chiefs, been to more Pro Bowls as a CB than any other.

  29. deangelo23hall says: Jun 14, 2012 4:43 PM

    Hell yea he is.

    Talk to me when Revis is still playing at that level into his 30′s. Doubt it. Sure doesn’t look like Asomugha is.

    Champ is a first ballot HoF’er and still a Skin in my heart.

    HTTR.

  30. jeremycrowhurst says: Jun 14, 2012 4:50 PM

    Shanahan’s big folly was in believing that he could take any guy off the street (like, say, Tatum Bell) and turn him into an All-Pro back.

    1500 yard backs just don’t grow on trees, and trading one before he’s even reached his peak is absolute madness, regardless of who you get for him. Had Portis not fallen into the black hole of D.C., he’d have achieved HoF numbers in his time in Denver, and would have taken a whole lot of pressure off of Jake Plummer.

    Probably wouldn’t have gotten them any more rings, but certainly would have gotten them closer.

  31. insanelomein2 says: Jun 14, 2012 4:56 PM

    What Champ meant to say was “I am better than most of the 22 and 23 yr old secondary on this team”.

  32. polegojim says: Jun 14, 2012 5:00 PM

    Great DB… lose that AWEFUL beard.

    Dude… that’s a bad look.

  33. thcnote says: Jun 14, 2012 5:04 PM

    Not only does Champ shut down his side but he did it playing the run for the last 5 years because our run D was so bad. Watch some Bronco games before you come on here and act like you know what your talking about. Haters are just scared because they know we now have a pass rush and a QB.

  34. dubblelznhell says: Jun 14, 2012 5:09 PM

    Two players off the top of my head that I think are better than Champ. Revis and Asomugha.

  35. denverscott says: Jun 14, 2012 5:27 PM

    dubblelznhell says: Jun 14, 2012 5:09 PM

    Two players off the top of my head that I think are better than Champ. Revis and Asomugha.

    ElTardo says what?

  36. eckertae says: Jun 14, 2012 5:33 PM

    When Champ was franchised and then traded the rumor in D.C. was that he had an affair with a Washington Post employee and his wife basically gave him the option of leaving town, or being crushed.

    Regardless, he’s a top 5 CB overall for his career. Only if he had the big play in the big moment, he might be the top at his position during that time.

    The trade turned out to be pretty even since neither player put their other team over the top.

  37. pmontague92 says: Jun 14, 2012 6:17 PM

    If only he could make the big play…you mean like intercepting Tom Brady and returning 100 yards to get Denver to AFC title game? Keep in mind he only sees about 2 pass plays a game in a busy day. I guess my understanding of big play differs from yours…

  38. capitaloffense says: Jun 14, 2012 6:40 PM

    No Redskin fan should come here and say a damn thing about Champ Bailey or that trade. In hindsight, the Portis/Bailey trade is one of, if not THE, worst trades our team has EVER made.

  39. maximusprime107 says: Jun 14, 2012 6:53 PM

    Champ has gotten burned quite often the last 2 years

  40. pmontague92 says: Jun 14, 2012 7:37 PM

    Quite often? I can think of only 2 games in the last decade…dwayne bowe in denver last year and calvin johnson in denver last year. And maybe one play by TO with eagles a few years back. What are some examplez of ‘often’?

  41. straightfromthedonkeysmouth says: Jun 14, 2012 7:44 PM

    I LOVE ME SOME CHAMP BAILEY AND AT THE TIME OF THE TRADE OF PORTIS I THOUGHT IT WAS A MISTAKE BUT CHAMP MADE A BELIEVER OUT OF ME THE BRONCOS WON WITH THAT TRADE LOOK WHOSE STILL STARTING AND GOT PEOPLE HATING DONT FORGET HOW MANY PLAYOFFS DID PORTTIS LEAD THE REDSKINS TO ? CHAMP BAILY HAS HELPED THE BRONCOS STAY RELIVANT AND CP IS NOT A MOTHER BLANKING FACTOR!

  42. kingcarlbanks says: Jun 14, 2012 8:57 PM

    Champ is the man, Portis was a product of the Denver zone blocking scheme. Any decent back could havw been plugged in and been good. A true shutdown corner is to rare to be traded for a running back. Broncos got over on DC.

  43. xyz24 says: Jun 14, 2012 9:00 PM

    Champ is still one of the best in the league and has been for over a decade. Portis was good for about 2 years after that trade, champ’s still going strong. Anyone who honestly thinks the redskins won in that deal, or that champ isn’t a first ballot hall of famer is a moron. Also a classy guy for staying in Denver before Manning was even a thought when he couldve ran to any other team and collected more money.

  44. musicman495 says: Jun 14, 2012 9:23 PM

    The dirty little secret is that Champ Bailey has been living off of his reputation and not earning those Pro Bowls for years.

  45. raiderapologist says: Jun 14, 2012 9:56 PM

    pmontague92 says: Jun 14, 2012 7:37 PM

    Quite often? I can think of only 2 games in the last decade…dwayne bowe in denver last year and calvin johnson in denver last year. And maybe one play by TO with eagles a few years back. What are some examplez of ‘often’?
    ——–
    I think Bailey is a fine corner, but if you want to go back a decade, I remember none other than Jerry Porter lighting him up like a Christmas tree. It happens.

  46. yahmule says: Jun 14, 2012 10:05 PM

    Besides his HOF caliber play, Champ also did Bronco fans the ultimate solid by being the one to finally convince Pat Bowlen to dump Josh McDaniels. Then he showed his appreciation by resigning with the Broncos because he believed John Elway was capable of turning the franchise around.

  47. decon49 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:11 PM

    I can still pee as far as when I was a kid

  48. granadafan says: Jun 14, 2012 10:38 PM

    He has those freak genes like Herschel Walker who looks like he could still gain 1000 yards at 49 years old.

  49. jomochiefsfan84 says: Jun 14, 2012 10:39 PM

    Cuzz4169 says Champ is still top 5 Cb in league…Watch him..Find me a video of him getting smoked for a TD…In the last 3 yrs he’s given up 4 TD passes. He still covers the #1 WR on the other team and does a great job. Ask Dwayne Bowe…he was on fire killing everyone and what did champ do? held him to ZERO catches. Ill take champ all day..He covers & tackles.

    You obliviously didn’t watch the last game of the season when Dwayne Bowe manhandled your so called top 5 corner for 6 catches for 96 yds averaging 15.5 yds per catch! Look at stats before you speak! I cannot wait for 2012 season to start when dumbass donkey fans realize your team is nothing but average even with brittle neck Peyton Manning!

  50. jomochiefsfan84 says: Jun 14, 2012 11:19 PM

    Cuzz4169 says:Champ is still top 5 Cb in league…Watch him..Find me a video of him getting smoked for a TD…In the last 3 yrs he’s given up 4 TD passes. He still covers the #1 WR on the other team and does a great job. Ask Dwayne Bowe…he was on fire killing everyone and what did champ do? held him to ZERO catches. Ill take champ all day..He covers & tackles.

    I guess you didnt watch the week 17 game when Dwayne Bowe manhandled that chump champ bailey for 6 catches for 96 yds averaging 15.5 yds per catch don’t speak if you don’t know what your talking about! I can’t wait til the 2012 season when all you donkey fans realize your team is average even with brittle neck Peyton Manning & when it does happen none of you will even look at the news or anything like this because we will all be busting on your asses all year long!

  51. dansnyder says: Jun 14, 2012 11:19 PM

    “straightfromthedonkeysmouth says:
    Jun 14, 2012 7:44 PM
    I LOVE ME SOME CHAMP BAILEY AND AT THE TIME OF THE TRADE OF PORTIS I THOUGHT IT WAS A MISTAKE BUT CHAMP MADE A BELIEVER OUT OF ME THE BRONCOS WON WITH THAT TRADE LOOK WHOSE STILL STARTING AND GOT PEOPLE HATING DONT FORGET HOW MANY PLAYOFFS DID PORTTIS LEAD THE REDSKINS TO ? CHAMP BAILY HAS HELPED THE BRONCOS STAY RELIVANT AND CP IS NOT A MOTHER BLANKING FACTOR!”

    Well, the Redskins actually went the to playoffs twice since portis was traded to the skins. 2005 and 2007, even won a playoff game in 05 meaning they played in 3 playoff games.

    That said I’ve always missed champ bailey. He was my favorite player up until Sean Taylor and the first Redskins jersey I’ve ever owned. I enjoyed Portis and he was a good running back some years, he didnt fit the scheme but that’s not his fault. To think for one season the Redskins actually had Darrel Green, Champ Bailey, and Deion Sanders as their corners. Sure they may have been past their prime but that was collectively the best secondary, career wise, in NFL history. Not just 3 probowl corners, not just three hall of famers, but what might end up being the top 3 corners to ever play.

  52. glennmcahill says: Jun 14, 2012 11:29 PM

    musicman495 says:
    Jun 14, 2012 9:23 PM
    The dirty little secret is that Champ Bailey has been living off of his reputation and not earning those Pro Bowls for years.
    ___________________

    Someone doesn’t watch or understand the game of football. Stick to music, man.

  53. lilb360 says: Jun 14, 2012 11:45 PM

    The two best corners in the league are Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey period. Others have skills at covering equal to these guys, but Champ and Chuck do something that most of the other DB’s in the league can’t or won’t do….TACKLE. (see Revis). Also what makes them great is attitude. team first always. Never once heard of Champ complaining about money, he just went out did his job and did it well, and guess what? he got paid. He never had to hold out or threaten to.
    D-Bag Darrel should take a step way back, watch how Grown folks take care of business, and spare us fans the nausea of watching him and his super size ego talk about how underpaid he is every couple of years.

    The second Mevis lines up as gunner on punt coverage and learns to tackle(like Bailey has done in pivotal moments during games) he can be mentioned in the same breath as Woodson and Bailey

  54. kodakinvegas says: Jun 15, 2012 1:14 AM

    Just catch Peyton’s passes and run like hell Champ

  55. forevercorr says: Jun 15, 2012 7:38 AM

    To the people talking about games against Bowe – both of those things happened. I am a Broncos fan who loves having Bowe on my Fantasy Football team, but I hate the two games a year Denver plays KC. Always a great game, but I never know if Bowe or Bailey is going to come out on top. Champ has shut Bowe down and Bowe has decimated the Denver secondary. Just varies.

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