New York (AFP) – Denver cornerback Champ Bailey might finally live up to his name after 15 National Football League seasons when the Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in Super Bowl 48.
The 35-year-old defender will make his Super Bowl debut and says winning would be the biggest achievement of a career that began with Washington in 1999 and saw him join the Broncos in 2004.
“It has been a long road, but I’m just taking it in stride,” Bailey said. “I’m not trying to hype it up more than it should be. It’s still football. You’ve got to go out there and perform.”
Teammates praise Bailey for his leadership and advice, but they also know how much it means to him just reaching the Super Bowl.
“To see him shed a tear after the last game, you know what this means to him,” said fellow cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Bailey was in reflective mood.
“I think that’s the way it works out,” he said. “If I was supposed to be here, I would have been here a long time ago. Things do take time, and I finally got with the right group of guys. This is definitely the best team I’ve been on.”
Bailey shakes off the notion that age has made him a step slow and vulnerable to younger, faster receivers, even as he enjoys the benefits of experience.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I’m supposed to lose a step at some point. It’s going to happen. You can’t avoid it. Every old player gets old. I don’t feel like I can’t play the game and that’s all that matters.”