DENVER — At the western-most edge of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame plaza, the 33rd inductee into the illustrious group grabbed the end of an orange ribbon and pulled quickly.
It had been quite the year for Champ Bailey. In January, he was elected a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer. Then, in August, he was officially enshrined into the Hall.
But as he slid a large piece of blue fabric off his new Ring of Fame pillar, he took the next step toward joining the select few who comprise a group that epitomizes what it means to be a Bronco.
“It’s crazy,” Bailey said Friday night after unveiling the pillar. “It’s been unreal. When I look around at all these greats, I can just remember the first days I walked into this stadium and seeing these stats and learning about the culture around here and what it’s like to be a Bronco. I’m just happy to be a part of this family now.”
It was only fitting that Bailey, whose 12 Pro Bowl appearances are the most all time by a cornerback, has a pillar that sits next to his former defensive teammate, John Lynch.
“That’s my guy,” Bailey said. “We got here the same time. He taught me what it takes to be an old player in this league. The way he took care of himself, I took a lot of those traits and tried to make sure I implemented in my game later in my career. To this day he’s still showing me how to lead.”
Bailey did a fine job of leading in his own manner.
Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker, who on Sunday will present Bailey with his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring, issued the highest of compliments during the Broncos’ Ring of Fame dinner.
“He is humble,” Baker said. “He is a great teammate. He’s the kind of guy you want in your huddle.