With the Redskins, Bailey went to four Pro Bowls (2000-2003), logged 18 interceptions and defended 81 passes, leading the NFL with 24 in 2002. He made the 1999 all-rookie team and in his fifth career game, became the youngest player in NFL history to record three interceptions in a game.
Bailey’s Hall of Fame career was rooted in Washington but cemented in Denver — where he made was named to the Associated Press all-pro first-team three times, made eight Pro Bowls and played in Super Bowl XLVIII — making Friday’s inquiry as to whether he considered entering football’s hallowed halls as a member of the Redskins interesting.
“I mean, no,” Bailey told Colorado Springs Gazette columnist Woody Paige, according to The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala. “It was never on the table. Nobody from Washington had called me until three days ago. Nobody.”
The idea of Bailey entering the Hall of Fame as a Redskin would likely have made Washington fans both smile and scratch their heads, given his five years as a member of the burgundy and gold and 10 seasons wearing blue and orange.
So, it may not be much of a surprise locally that the Redskins weren’t one of the first to reach out to congratulate Bailey on his enshrinement. A Redskins spokesman confirmed that owner Daniel Snyder reached out to Bailey earlier this week to congratulate him.
Snyder and his wife, Tanya, also took out a full-page ad in the Hall of Fame Game program to congratulate Bailey on his illustrious career.
Nationally, Bailey will be remembered for his contributions to the Broncos, but locally, he will be looked at as an opportunity lost for a franchise lacking in elite talent over the past two decades. Despite bringing in Portis, who turned out to be one of the most popular Redskins in recent history, the trade still brings mixed reviews among the Washington fan base, especially when factoring in the second-round pick thrown in by then-coach Joe Gibbs.
With the Redskins, Portis became the team’s second all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. Bailey is tied for fourth in Broncos history with 34 interceptions. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Bailey and Portis both gave their opinions last year about who actually won the trade.
“They got a second-round pick with me,” Bailey said. “I think that was the icing on the cake, but you ask me about Hall of Fame, are you going to ask him about Hall of Fame? Clinton Portis? I have enough confidence to say, yeah, we got the better end of that [trade].”
“He said, ‘Oh, in the trade [the Broncos] got a second-round pick as well,’ meaning he wasn’t enough to go straight up,” Portis fired back. “They needed to add a second-round pick as well. I’m a huge fan of Champ’s and I think he had a great career and deserves to go to the Hall of Fame, but I still don’t see Denver winning that trade. I think the Redskins actually got the better end."
Bailey said during Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day in 2014 that “leaving the Redskins was the best thing to happen to my career.” But when he returned to FedEx Field in 2009, Bailey reiterated how the Redskins faithful around the country felt about him and his surprising departure.
“I’m not going to lie,” Bailey said. “Everywhere I go outside of Denver, the only thing I get: ‘I wish you were still with the Redskins. I’m a Redskins fan.’ That’s all I get, everywhere I go. Any city, other than Denver, that’s all I get. Even in this city. There’s Redskins fans everywhere.”
Bailey will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday along with contributors Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt, tight end Tony Gonzalez, cornerback Ty Law, center Kevin Mawae, and safeties Ed Reed and Johnny Robinson.
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