Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey returns to Washington Sunday for the first time since he was traded to Denver in March 2004.
“It will be a little different coming out of the visitors’ locker room and going onto that field,” said Bailey, who missed Washington’s 2005 visit to Denver because of an ailing hamstring. “I had a lot of special moments there.”
Bailey, whose eight Pro Bowls are tied for second among cornerbacks, helped Washington win its only NFC East title during the past 17 years as a rookie in 1999. The next year, he began his run of postseason trips to Hawaii. But when talks on a new contract broke off during the 2003 season, Bailey was on his way to being traded along with a second-round draft choice to the Broncos for running back Clinton Portis.
“I knew it was slim and none,” Bailey said. “I was trying to be optimistic about it, but with the way contract talks were going, I knew things would have to change dramatically … to happen right. I had one conversation with [Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs]. I don’t know how much he knew about me. I wasn’t expecting him to fall in love with me all of a sudden. I was hoping I could play for him, but it just didn’t work out.”
Asked who got the better of the deal, Bailey hesitated before replying, “I think they got what they wanted and the Broncos got what they wanted.”
After playing for four coaches and five defensive coordinators during his five seasons with the Redskins, Bailey welcomed the stability in Denver where Mike Shanahan was the coach from 1995-2008.
“When I left there, it was a swinging door,” Bailey said of Washington. “When I got here, it wasn’t like that.”
- David Elfin