Sports Outside the Beltway

Champ Bailey VS. Deion Sanders

Pete Prisco put out his Top 50 Players in the NFL. And, he said something that I have heard many times before.

The highest-rated defensive player is Broncos corner Champ Bailey in the fourth spot. He got my vote as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season and is the best cover player since Deion Sanders.

And, I can agree with where he has Champ Bailey placed on the list.

1. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts: You’d be hard-pressed to find people — outside the Boston area, that is — who would argue about him owning this spot now.

2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: He’s just a hair behind Manning. Look out now, though, with all those receivers on the roster. This could be a special year for Brady.

3. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers: He’s a sensational all-round weapon. If he plays long enough, he might break all the rushing records.

4. Champ Bailey, CB, Denver Broncos: He is the best defensive player in the league. You can compare him to Deion Sanders, which is high praise.

But, my question is. Isn’t Champ Bailey Better than Deion Sanders? And, I know Deion was great! But, here are the numbers.


First of all, Champ without question is more physical than Deion. Champ has already surpassed Deion in tackles. And, at the same point in his career Champ has five more interceptions than Deion. The way I see it. Champ Bailey barring injury, is better than Deion Sanders.

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It’s hard to compare players from different eras because the rules and offensive systems change so much. Still, it would be easy to make the case that the rules are less DB-friendly than they were in Sanders’ heyday.

In fairness to Deion, though, he wasn’t JUST the best defensive back of his era but also the best return guy and an occasional wide receiver.

Posted by James Joyner | June 18, 2007 | 04:28 pm | Permalink

I will agree that it is hard to compare eras. But, they do mirror each other in a lot of ways. Except, rules. I said, deion was great. But Pete Prisco said, “best cover player since Deion Sanders”. And, I have seen and heard many others make the same point.

I know it doesn’t compare to deion’s output on offense. But, Champ has caught 4 receptions for 89 yards. An average of 22.3 yards per catch. Not bad? Champ would love to play offense more, and has said so. He has the athletic ability. The coaches choose not to put him on the other side of the ball.

Posted by Jeremy Glasoe | June 18, 2007 | 05:09 pm | Permalink

Yep. The other thing–and I haven’t seen Bailey play nearly as much as I saw Sanders–is that Deion often went a whole game with only a few passes thrown in his direction. Teams simply would not throw to his side of the field, limiting his INT opportunities. I’m not sure how true that is of Bailey.

Posted by James Joyner | June 19, 2007 | 08:38 am | Permalink

Last year, Champ had 35 passes thrown his way the whole season.

21 were defensed.

10 were intercepted.

On his watch, 4 passes were caught against him the whole season. Last season, Champ had one of the most remarkable seasons of any cornerback I have ever seen, period. His tackles were almost exclusively in run support. His recovery speed is uncanny and his instincts for the game are superb. I watched a lot of Deion and a lot of what I saw was fantastic playmaking ability but as an overall cornerback I’d take Champ in his best years over Deion in his best years and I wouldnt second guess my decision.

Posted by Adam W | June 19, 2007 | 09:33 am | Permalink

Amen, Adam W.

It’s hard to follow a cornerback unless you get to see several games of the same team over the course of a season, but for all those who didn’t get a feel for what Bailey did last year, he was phenomenal.

Those stats – four catches over a season – tell the story I guess. Plus several of those INT’s came in or near the end zone, robbing opponents of TD’s and keeping the Broncos (and their unreliable offense) in the game.

Posted by Deroville | June 20, 2007 | 08:50 am | Permalink

Nicely put Adam.

And Champ does it without the flashy attitude and without the look-what-I-can-do mentality. He’s a consummate pro on and off the field. Champ over Deion without hesitation.

Posted by Kirk A | June 20, 2007 | 09:11 am | Permalink

What, not a Deion supporter in sight? Very good stat, Adam.

James? Where you at? haha

Posted by Jeremy Glasoe | June 20, 2007 | 03:17 pm | Permalink

Champ is better. He has more athletic ability, probably will have more interceptions and can also play the run. Humble too. Washington might have thought it was a good idea at the time to trade him, but look now. Much better with Denver, and was superb with the Skins also.


Posted by Hesky | June 24, 2007 | 12:18 pm | Permalink

Deion may have been the best “center fielder” (deep) the game has seen. The difference is, Champ covers ANYWHERE . . . deep, fades, hooks, over the middle. Deion had some difficulties in the shorter stuff, especially over the middle. Moreover, Champ tackles. I don’t think Deion has even consulted the dictionary to discover the meaning of “tackle.”

Champ may be the G.O.A.T. Deion is in the top five, MAYBE. I remember Willie Brown, Mike Haynes, Herb Adderly, among others . . all COMPLETE cornerbacks. Deion was not a COMPLETE cornerback.

Posted by Larry B | June 27, 2007 | 06:09 pm | Permalink

I am a HUGE champ Bailey fan, and I agree that he is better than Deion, but Im quite certain that you information is incorrect Adam W. There had to be many more than 35 passes his direction last season. I remember seeing a nubmer like 60 before. Maybe the 35 is just when he was man 2 man? Either way he played remarkably, especially considering that he played against many of the best WRs in the NFL. According to ESPNs KC Joyner he dominated in YPA against with something like 4.1, the lowest hes seen for a CB. He did not get burned at all last year and only once or twice the year before.

Champ is a much much better corner back then he was 3 years ago and that is saying a lot considering that he was extremely good even then.

Posted by Danny | June 27, 2007 | 06:19 pm | Permalink

The only reason Champ does not have as many TDs is they don’t let him run back kicks nor allow him to play WR.

Champ is the consummate PRO deion the consummate clown even got fired from TV for being a prima donna.

Posted by JR | June 27, 2007 | 06:31 pm | Permalink

The only reason that people don’t call the best CB since Haynes is because of the restructured salery cap issues brought about by, guess who, Deion Sanders. The stories back then were all about individual hype and Deion was king of that era (remember the Bo Jackson hype around the same time). The salery cap and free agency changed how teams marketed players and thus how much they were willing to pay them. Champ could never produce the hype and the following myth that Deion had as the best at his position ever. Hype or not Champ is better than Deion was.

Posted by J. Zanders | June 27, 2007 | 08:19 pm | Permalink

champ in his prime is better than deion. champ stuffs the run better, tackles ebtter, covers better, and doesn’t need the theatrical attitude deion seems to sadly live every day.

champ over deion in their primes.

Posted by j | June 27, 2007 | 09:02 pm | Permalink

I think when it’s all said and done Champ will go down as the greatest of all time but to do that he needs to stay on the level he played at last year. He by all means should have won the DMVP last year (though Taylor had a great year). IMO I see Champ playing CB for 3 maybe 4 years and then possibly moving to S like Rod Woodson did at the end of his career. Champ has everything you look for if you want a complete CB!

Posted by AllEyezOnZach27 | June 28, 2007 | 12:45 am | Permalink

Champ considers the term “cover corner” an insult. Cover corners only blanket WRs and don’t allow them to get open. Champ does that, as well as covering his side of the field on run support. Champ tackles better than any corner I have seen and puts his head in and makes the tackles. The fact that he has exceeded Peion’s entire career tackle numbers already speaks for itself.

When it’s all said and done, Champ will go down as the greatest defensive player in NFL history, and probably one of the best atheletes the NFL has ever seen. He’s the kind of guy you want your kid to grow up to be.

Posted by Malox | June 28, 2007 | 11:44 pm | Permalink

one thing than none of you guys are talking about is tackling. deion didnt tackle and champ bailey is a great tackler. champ always makes the big tackle.

Posted by bobby | July 3, 2007 | 04:29 pm | Permalink

First of all, Champ is THE best Broncos player to ever play on the defensive side. Yeah, there was Gradishar, Dennis Smith, Rulon Jones, and Louis Wright, but nothing even close to Champ. He’s not just amazing because he can tackle so well, but also because he can make plays on the few chances he gets. I read in a statistical report that he gets thrown 4.1 balls a game, or 64. 10 were picked and 21 were defensed. If you think of all the other recievers he had to cover because nobody ELSE it seemed like, could cover, then 30 receptions by all of the other recievers is still amazing. You probably can look at all the No. 1 WR he faces, and they might catch one. Marvin Harrison caught 2. If he plays 2 or three years, at the level he plays at, I guaruntee he will go to the Hall of Fame.

Posted by Brandon Elliott | July 14, 2007 | 08:22 am | Permalink

guys don’t forget about rod woodson nearly as fast as neon but could hit like a freckin truck used very aggressively but still a top five corner in my humble opinion champ is a great player i have seen him beat before but he has a tremendous focus helps when on an island best corner now by far

Posted by jess d | July 21, 2007 | 01:57 am | Permalink

This whole argument is a joke. Champ Bailey is good but doesn’t compare to the likes of a Deion Sanders. Let’s throw all of the stats out of the window and look at them both individually. Sure Deion didn’t play the run the same way he did the pass but you never really saw teams set up a game plan to run everything toward his side. Throwing towards his side wasn’t even a option. Bailey is a great cover corner but he sees way more action than Deion did. That all about respect and also fear which every quarterback had upon looking at Deion. Athleticism, please! Deion Sanders 4.21 forty is all I have to say. That on top of the fact that this man played baseball as well, in the major leagues for that matter. Deion also ran back kicks, punts, and played some receiver as well. Teams not only didn’t throw towards Sanders but it got to the point where they didn’t kick the ball towards him either. They say complete corners need to know how to tackle as well as defend the pass and run, but there isn’t any other corner in league history that owned one side of the field. Champ is respected, Deion was feared.

Posted by Dwight | August 7, 2007 | 12:03 pm | Permalink

From 1994 to 2001-2002 Deion only gave up 3 regular season touchdowns. 1994 flipper anderson, 2000 Marvin Harrison, and Jacksonville his last season with the Redskins. nuff said!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Jaron Reeves | August 10, 2007 | 11:49 pm | Permalink

Sorry Champ fans but it’s not even close here. Prime is the best shutdown/shutOUT corner EVER. He played press,soft,zone or whatever coverage was needed to get it done.He DOMINATED Jerry Rice in his prime. The 49ers wouldn’t even throw it to Prime’s side even with the great Rice on the field! Champ was DESTROYED by T.O. 2 years ago for about 95 yards if you remember. Champ is a top 10 all-timer though just not in PRIME’S class.

Posted by Lee 13 | August 29, 2007 | 02:37 pm | Permalink

Champ not feared, lol. right now the CB position is harder then it ever has been, Receivers are better and the game is more refined. I bet Deon wouldn’t even be the second best corner in todays game. the rules have changed and not in favor of the CB.

And champ was a sporty 4.28 in the forty so a .07 second advantage isn’t enough said for me. sorry you bought the deon koolaid.

Posted by Rnel | August 31, 2007 | 03:43 am | Permalink



Posted by WaLT Stephens | September 4, 2007 | 08:42 pm | Permalink

Champ is an amzing player. I’m only 15 so I haven’t seen as much of Deion but Champ is my favorite player of all time. What makes him so great is that he is never cocky on the feild. He does what he does best, defend, and stays humble about. He acts like he’s done it more then once and its a regular for him. He plays true football

Posted by Dylan Siemens | September 12, 2007 | 09:17 pm | Permalink

Well they are both great players. Champ is just better all around. Sanders could interecept a ball and he could cover great. Champ does that and more. the thing is champ gets better and better each year and will be better than any other corner for years to come. sanders is good dont get me wrong. just not as good as champ.

Posted by Matt Budde | September 19, 2007 | 10:13 am | Permalink

I was into football during Deion’s prime and so I never saw him when he dominated football. However, I do have DVDs in which players and coaches talk about Primetime and the main thing almost everyone said was that people didn’t throw his way. I have a DVD in which Bob Costas says team were “afraid” to throw it to his side of the field.

Obviously I’ve heard all the comments and stories that he couldn’t tackle to save his life but honestly, that is wasn’t he was drafted or signed to do. His job was make a receiver a non-factor for 60 minutes and that is what he did.

Another thing a lot of people forget is that Deion never even perfected his craft. I’ve heard a quite a few people say his technique wasn’t that good and he made many of his plays on athletisicm alone. He didn’t attend a training camp until the 1996 season in which he had to play learn the WR position. He didn’t attend training camp and missed 5 games of the 94 season yet he still recorded 6 picks and returned them for 3 TDs.

Granted, Champ Bailey is amazing. He does EVERYTHING well but is probably only a hair behind Deion athletically, however, I don’t think comparing him to Deion is fair. Deion and Bailey are two completely different players who played at different periods.

Personally, I believe Deion is the greatest cover corner of all-time while Champ Bailey will probably edge out Rod Woodson as the most complete corner of all time when his career is over.

Posted by Sekou Tejan-Jalloh | September 29, 2007 | 09:02 pm | Permalink

That Lee hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about! Champ runs a 4.28 but Owens kills him every time they play against each other. Champ is one deminsional. Just a corner. Deion is a triple threat…something Champ would love to be but just doesn’t have that much talent. Receiver, punt returner, kick off returner, please! He’s good, but in the same class as Deion, nope! He’s in the same class as maybe a guy like Darell Green or a Eric Allen. Deion looks down on all y’all.

Posted by Dwight | September 30, 2007 | 12:16 am | Permalink

Lee said Deion dominated Rice. BULL. I remember a Monday Night Football game in 1990 when Rice lit up Deion for not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE TD’S in a 45-35 Niner win.. Deion was good, but NOBODY could cover Rice.

Posted by EZRider | October 3, 2007 | 05:50 pm | Permalink

Look this is it champ has better numbers and would never allow any receiver jerry in his prime as well catch 5 td’s on him it won’t happen deion has cried after having to make a tackle he was soft. Champ is better.

Posted by Curt | October 10, 2007 | 12:48 pm | Permalink

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