Watch CBS News

For Champ Bailey, Turning Point In Career Came When He Embraced Leadership

DENVER (CBS4) - On Tuesday morning Champ Bailey gave a speech in Denver that sounded a lot like a Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Bailey talked at length about his NFL career at the Boy Scouts of America Denver Area Council Sports Breakfast.

Broncos 2012 Stadium Scrimmage
Champ Bailey signs autographs (credit: CBS)

Bailey will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, and if this keynote speech was any indication, Bailey will knock it out of the park during his upcoming speech in Canton.

Early in his career, after Bailey had made it to his first Pro Bowl and before he was traded to the Denver Broncos, his Washington Redskins team was struggling and he was "caught up in myself." He said his head coach at the time, Marty Schottenheimer, helped to straighten him out. The coach told Bailey his teammates were looking up to him in a new way now that he was a Pro Bowler. But Bailey wasn't playing his best.

"The last thing I want is my peers to not respect me, not look up to me," he said.

He was 23 and "not a natural leader at that point," but youth wasn't an excuse. And from that moment on, Bailey said he embraced the leadership role in the locker room.

"You've got to learn to embrace those moments," the first defensive Broncos player to be voted into the Hall told the Denver crowd.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos
Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos breaks up the catch by Jonathan Baldwin #89 of the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)

Bailey encouraged the young people present to listen carefully to the feedback provided by coaches, guides and mentors in their lives. He told the kids they'll have someone who will put them in their place. While it might not be easy to swallow, the key is to act on the advice given.

"Keep learning, keep embracing moments to be taught," he said.

Bailey said his election to the Hall of Fame didn't just happen randomly. He says he had "really big dreams" that began forming when he was 5 and all throughout his football life he devoted himself to work, details and consistency.

"You cannot practice enough," he said. "Practice never makes you perfect, but it does promote excellence."

MORE FROM 247SPORTS: Champ Bailey Encourages Chris Harris Jr.'S Fight For New Deal

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.