DENVER (CBS4) – Twelve-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey has been around a long time and has seen it all. He’s also 35 and after his subpar performance in the playoffs, some may wonder if he’s lost a step.
Bailey says he hears the talk, but it doesn’t bother him.
“Oh, no … I deal with that in the offseason, how I feel going in. But when I’m in it, I feel like I’m 23, can still run, it doesn’t matter,” Bailey said on “The Jim Rome Show.” “You’ve got a guy in front of me that I have to defeat, I have all the confidence in the world that I can get it done.”
For the past several years it seems like the Broncos have had a sense of urgency to get to the Super Bowl. Bailey is entering his 15th NFL season and Peyton Manning is 37. The Broncos had a stellar season last year but lost the heartbreaker to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. Bailey said if the Broncos aren’t holding up the Vince Lombardi trophy come February, it will be another failed season for a team with high expectations.
“I wouldn’t say ‘now or never,’ but I would say that if we don’t get to the point where we’re holding up that trophy, it’s a failed season for us,” Bailey said. “Ultimately, when you step on that field the first day of training camp, that’s all you’re thinking about.”
With all the accomplishments that Bailey has made in his career, he’s still not made it to the Super Bowl. He said he would have hoped he’d been involved with a championship team by now.
“I think that every athlete that puts on that uniform in this league dreams of playing in that game,” he said. “To this day I do think about that game, but it takes a lot of work to get there. I’ve seen the ups and downs of what it takes from a team. I feel like we’ve got a good shot and those dreams are still alive.”
Bailey doesn’t know if this year’s team is better than last year’s, but he said he thinks the Broncos are definitely heading in a better direction.
“We were never as smooth as we wanted to be and we understand that, and going forward we know how to handle that.”
He said Manning’s confidence level is more visible going into his second year with Denver than it was in the first season.
“Last year you could tell he would get frustrated in practice … I see more of a comfort level now, and that’s only going to help us because he’s got to feel his confidence and that rubs off on everybody.”
The Broncos acknowledged what they call a “disturbing pattern” after news broke this week of two top executives facing drunk driving charges. Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell and Director of Pro Personnel Tom Heckert were both recently picked up on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Bailey called it unfortunate.
“It happens. It’s unfortunate that it happened to some guys in our organization, but you see it around the league every offseason. You just have to be more careful,” Bailey said. “Everybody has to abide by the same law no matter what uniform you put on.”
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com