In the team’s official release on releasing the 12-time Pro Bowler, the Broncos showered him with praise.
“This was a difficult decision for our team with everything that Champ Bailey has meant to the Denver Broncos and this community over the last 10 years,” Broncos boss John Elway said. “Without question, he’s among the best cornerbacks to ever play the game and one of the finest players in the history of the Broncos. You couldn’t ask for more in a player than what Champ brought to this team. His combination of elite talent, class, leadership and competitiveness made him one of the all-time greats.
“On behalf of everyone with the Broncos, I wish Champ all the best and thank him for everything he did for this franchise. Champ will always be a Bronco. We look forward to his Ring of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame election in the years ahead.”
Of course, they didn’t want him on the roster, at least not in exchange for the $10 million worth of salary cap space it would have required.
“I consider it a privilege to have coached Champ these last three years,” Broncos coach John Fox said. “I thank him and truly appreciate everything he did for our team. There’s no doubt he played an integral role in establishing a culture of winning here.
“Aside from his natural ability, Champ set a great example with his hard work and relentless commitment to mastering his craft.”
The things the Broncos are saying about Bailey are all true. He had the kind of career that all players should aspire to.
But he’s also an example of the business of the league that almost no player can escape.
No matter how much they love you, when you get old and your play slips and you’re still getting paid like you were in your prime, you’re vulnerable.