Champ Bailey Retires: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2014

USA Today

Following 15 seasons that produced a potential Hall of Fame resume, cornerback Champ Bailey is retiring from the NFL.    

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bailey has decided to hang up his cleats even though teams have shown interest in signing him:

The 36-year-old veteran retires with 12 Pro Bowl selections and 52 career interceptions, although he was never able to capture an elusive Super Bowl ring.

Bailey has clearly lost a few steps in recent years, and he really struggled last season with the Denver Broncos. Although he seemed poised to continue his career with the New Orleans Saints, he was cut prior to the regular season.

The prevailing feeling was that Bailey would decide to leave the game of football for good, but Lindsay Jones of USA Today was among those who wanted to see him go out on his own terms:

Even with his eroded skills, there was a belief that Bailey could be a useful player in 2014 based on his instincts and savvy alone. Perhaps that is why the Detroit Lions brought him in for a somewhat surprising workout on Sept. 4, as Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com reported:

The reviews were positive in the wake of Bailey's showcase, and he even seemed to endear himself to the Lions coaching staff, per Justin Rogers of MLive.com:

Prior to that workout, Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, made it clear that his client wanted to continue playing, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

That particular workout didn't lead to Bailey landing a job, but he did get tabbed for another workout with the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 7, according to Schefter, via ESPN's Field Yates:

Once again, Bailey left the workout without a contract, and that would prove to be his final effort at making an NFL roster.

As great as Bailey has been over the years, it still feels like he is a bit underrated historically. Although Bailey has topped five interceptions in a season just twice, he has clearly been one of the best in the business since entering the league in 1999 with the Washington Redskins.

Truth be told, quarterbacks were simply unwilling to throw the ball in his direction more than a few times per game for the bulk of his career. Receivers rarely got any type of separation against him, and he was capable of taking an entire half of the field out of the equation at his best.

He is quite possibly the best shutdown cornerback of his era, which is why a trip to Canton, Ohio, could very much be in the cards for Bailey five years down the line.

There is something to be said for a player who decides to walk away from the game he loves rather than tarnish his legacy with subpar play. With that in mind, Bailey deserves credit for making such a tough choice despite still generating interest around the league.

It remains to be seen what "other career opportunities" lie ahead for Bailey.

Bailey accomplished pretty much everything possible in the NFL, and he can now leave it behind with his head held high.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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