ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Champ Bailey's thumbs got quite the workout in the offseason as he bombarded Peyton Manning with texts pleading with him to come to Denver.
Manning returned just two of them.
The first one basically said, "Thanks, I'll get back to you."
The second one, now, that's the one that got Bailey excited. "Let's go!" it read.
And so, the two 11-time Pro Bowlers who had played in nine of the all-star games together were teammates at long last.
The pair of NFL greats in their mid-30s figured they'd make each other even better by playing together, and they say that's exactly what's happened over the last six months.
Bailey bugged Manning during his free agency whirlwind tour, he said, "because he's an amazing player and his leadership alone is bar none the best in the league. You need a guy like that on your team, and where I want to go, what I want to do toward the end of my career is win a championship and I feel like he gives us the best chance." Bailey said he had long put Manning at the top of his QB list because of the "way he breaks down a defense and pretty much tells you what you're in and half the guys on defense don't even know what we're doing. It's sad but true. You try to trick him as much as possible, but for some reason, somebody always tips him and he knows, he just knows."
Bailey never had a quarterback quite like Manning to practice against, and Manning had never had a cornerback the caliber of Bailey to face on an everyday
They're eager to see how all this time together, while frustrating at times, will pay dividends for the Broncos (No. 10 in the AP Pro32) this season.
"Well, it makes the games easier, let's just say that," Bailey said. "You're going to face the best in practice every day with Peyton. When you get in a game, you're probably not going to see a guy of his caliber, so it gets us ready."