Greatness is as greatness does.
Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey are arguably the two greatest to play at their respective positions in the history of the NFL, and their 12 Pro Bowl selections each are proof.
Manning and Bailey became the ninth and 10th players since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 to be named to the Pro Bowl a dozen times, the first quarterback and cornerback to do so.
Bailey has long been the model of consistency and will likely go down as best cover cornerback in the last 20 years, if not all-time. Through his 14-year career, Champ has racked up 52 interceptions and 200 passes defended, though he’s been so respected by opposing quarterbacks that they won’t throw his way many times in fear of turning the ball over.
What’s underrated about his game is his tackling with sound technique, signaturely going low and wrapping up the ball-carriers’ legs to take him down. While he may have lost a step the last few years, no one can doubt Bailey is the best tackling corner in the game today.
Manning’s been magnificent for the Broncos this season, playing better than anyone expected given his year away from football and transition to a new town and team.
He’s taken over, implemented his offense and attention to detail, making Denver the second-highest scoring team in the NFL at 29.5 points per game. What Manning’s done – adapting to new teammates and coaches, battling back from four neck surgeries and enjoying one of his best years statistically speaking – is nothing short of miraculous.
When he really shines is at the end of halves. If Manning and the Broncos offense get the ball with six or less minutes remaining – as they have so many times this season – the veteran quarterback understands how to work the clock and work the ball down the field to put points on the board. No matter the situation, Manning is amazing at the end of halves, which is part of the reason he’s one of the few elite QBs.
And what both Manning and Bailey have in common is their unique ability to lead through example rather than by running their mouth.
Yes, they both teach verbally, but it’s always with respect in mind, which earns respect back from younger teammates. They are each consummate professionals, studying the game they love in order to become legendary competitors, and they’re two of the captains on this special Denver Broncos team that’s riding a 10-game winning streak for a reason.
With Champ and Peyton, the Broncos have two future Hall of Famers to look to for advice and leadership – they’ve delivered all year long, and each would love nothing more than capping this year with a Super Bowl win.
Denver Broncos Pro Bowl notes:
Manning was far and away the most voted for player by fans, receiving 993,045 votes, almost 85,000 more than New England Patriots QB Tom Brady.
Linebacker Von Miller (17.5 sacks), defensive end Elvis Dumervil (6 FF) and tackle Ryan Clady were also each named starters.
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, guard Chris Kuper, guard Zane Beadles, punter Britton Colquitt and receiver Eric Decker were all named alternates.
Of course, Broncos fans hope none of them play in the Pro Bowl because they’re preparing for the Super Bowl the next week, which is a distinct possibility.
More Denver Broncos:
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Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos have best comebacks of 2012
Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning in elite company on 10-game winning streak
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on twitter or facebook for all you Denver Broncos news and opinion.