Champ Bailey on Chris Harris: “I’m proud of him, man”

Champ Bailey on Chris Harris

Chris Harris Jr. hasn’t always been the Denver Broncos’ top cornerback. In fact, when he first came to Denver, as an undrafted free agent, his job was to sit and learn from one of the best to ever do it, Champ Bailey.

It was probably the best thing that ever happened to him, too.

Remember, when Harris came into the league, he wasn’t much more than training camp fodder; it took nearly everything he had just to make the team. And a big reason why he did was because he was a student of the game, and Bailey was about as good of a teacher as you could ask for.

Now, as Bailey has watched his young protege grow into an All-Pro corner, he thinks back at the journey Harris has taken to get to this point.

“He’s grown so much, he’s learned so much,” he said of Harris, via “I mean he’s had the luxury of playing opposite of me and now Talib comes in, another guy he can learn from. He’s just a student of the game, he’s tough, he tackles, he covers. There’s no part of the game that you ask your corner to do that he can’t do well. I’m proud of him, man. I watch from afar and it makes me smile when I see him do great things.”This year, along with Aqib Talib, Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward, Chris Harris led the Denver Broncos to the No. 1 passing defense in the NFL, giving up just 199.6 yards per game. As Bailey would know, that’s a tough task.

“It’s very tough,” Bailey said. “This is a passing league and you ask your corners to get out there and play a lot of man-to-man and leave them by themselves a lot of the times. That’s tough to do and what it takes is a really confident short-term memory guy, and that’s what these two guys are.”

Bailey also understands that everything the defense has accomplished up until this point means nothing if they don’t walk away with a Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. Every opportunity they get, they have to take advantage of it.

“Cherish the moment, enjoy the moment and take advantage of the opportunity while it’s front of you, because they’re rare to come by,” Bailey said. “I mean, you’re back in the playoffs again after last year, but obviously, last year ended early because you didn’t bring your A-game. Bring you’re A-game, study hard, play fast.”

Harris and the Broncos have been fortunate to be in the playoffs each of the last five years, including three seasons as the No. 1 seed, but they understand that that doesn’t guarantee them anything. If they follow Bailey’s advice, though, hopefully the’ll be able to achieve the success Denver has been dreaming of for almost two decades.