Champ Bailey was groomed for long career

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Champ Bailey has been preparing for these days since he entered the NFL in 1999 with the Washington Redskins.

As a 21-year-old rookie, he was teammates with 39-year-old future Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green. The next year, cornerback Deion Sanders, then 33, joined the Redskins.

Champ Bailey

Champ Bailey

#24 CB
Denver Broncos

2011 STATS

  • Tot39
  • Solo35
  • Ast4
  • FF1
  • Sack0.0
  • Int2

It gave Bailey an invaluable lesson.

“Playing with those two guys toward the end of their careers really helped me prepare for this time in my career,” Bailey said. “Even back then I was thinking of the future and it is paying off now.”

Oh, is it ever paying off.

Bailey, 34, is entering his 14th NFL season and he is still playing at a high level. He's entering the second season of a four-year contract extension and is performing so well that he has no timetable for how long he is going to play.

“I don’t even think about it anymore,” Bailey said. “As long as I can play well, I’m going to play.”

There have been suggestions that Bailey could end his career at safety. Yet he said as long as he is effective playing cornerback, he is going to stay there. Bailey said the key to his late-career success is that he is still finding ways to improve.

“I think I did a lot of the little things better last season than I did before,” Bailey said. “It’s mental stuff that you have to do to keep going. I want to continue to find a way to get better in my 14th season as well. ... I just want to keep going like Darrell Green did all those years. He showed me you can do it regardless of age.”