Another Washington legend is returning to the fold for the Commanders’ Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Via John Keim of ESPN, Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey will be honored as the franchise’s Legend of the Game and also serve as an honorary captain.
“Now, for several reasons, it feels like the perfect time to show up and become part of the franchise again,” Bailey said. “I’ve been wanting this for years. Timing is everything.”
Bailey was the No. 7 overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft by former general manager Charley Casserly. After five outstanding seasons in Washington, the team traded Bailey — and a second-round pick — to the Denver Broncos for running back Clinton Portis. Bailey would spend 10 seasons with the Broncos and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.
Portis would go on to have an excellent career for Washington, but Bailey would become one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. Bailey was in a contract dispute with Washington in 2003 at the time of his trade.
During his time in Washington, Bailey was named a second-team All-Pro twice and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.
Bailey hasn’t been back at FedEx Field since 2009, when he returned for a game while with the Broncos. Bailey has been critical of the organization — mainly former owner Dan Snyder — over the years. But since Snyder sold the organization in July, new owner Josh Harris and his partners have worked hard to repair relationships with the fan base and former players.
Former Washington running back Tim Hightower, the franchise’s director of alumni relations, has worked hard to bring back several of the franchise’s legends, including Bailey. However, former ownership complicated matters, specifically Bailey.