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March 06, 2014


ENGLEWOOD, Colo.— Cornerback Champ Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler and seven-time captain who became one of the most accomplished players in Denver Broncos history during his 10 years with the team, was released by the club on Thursday.

“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 Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager 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.”

Bailey, a 15-year NFL veteran and member of the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team, spent 10 seasons (2004-13) in Denver, where he became one of the most decorated players in team annals. His 12 career Pro Bowl selections trail only Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White (13) among defensive players in NFL history and tie for the sixth most overall.

“I consider it a privilege to have coached Champ these last three years,” Broncos Head 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.”

In 215 career regular-season games (212 starts), Bailey has totaled 983 tackles (837 solo), 52 interceptions (464 yds.), 235 passes defensed, three sacks (26 yds.), nine forced fumble and five fumble recoveries. His 52 interceptions represent the most among active cornerbacks, and his 204 passes defensed lead all active NFL players.

He has started 10-of-11 career postseason games, recording 34 tackles (30 solo), two interceptions (105 yds.) and 10 passes defensed.

Acquired from Washington in 2004 for running back Clinton Portis and a second-round draft choice that year, Bailey immediately made his mark in Denver. He totaled 21 interceptions during his first three years with the club, earning first-team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press following each of those seasons. He posted a career-high 10 interceptions in 2006 when he finished as runner-up for the Associated Press’ Defensive Player of the Year.

Bailey is currently tied for the second most Pro Bowl selections (8) in Broncos history in addition to being tied for fourth on the club’s all-time interceptions list (34).

A visible presence for the Broncos off the field, Bailey was a two-time recipient of Denver’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award (2008-09) for his work in the community. He also was honored with the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award in 2011 for his cooperation and honesty in dealing with the media.

Bailey was the first back-to-back winner of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s Pro Athlete of the Year Award (2005-06) and was named the Denver Athletic Club’s Athlete of the Year for 2010.

Selected by Washington with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft from the University of Georgia, Bailey spent his first five seasons with the Redskins. Bailey played alongside Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerbacks Darrell Green and Deion Sanders as he made the Pro Bowl in four of his five years with the Redskins.

One of college football’s most dynamic players during his career at Georgia, Bailey contributed on offense, defense and special teams for the Bulldogs. In his final collegiate season, he earned consensus All-America and first-team All-Southeastern Conference recognition in addition to winning the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defensive player. 

A Class-A all-state selection in football at Charlton County High School in Folkston, Ga., Bailey was born on June 22, 1978, in Fort Campbell, Ky.

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