Originally posted on Denver Post  |  Last updated 12/29/11

Young NFL players here in Denver and around the league could certainly a learn a thing or two from Champ Bailey, and not just about playing football — though with 11 Pro Bowls to his credit, Bailey surely is the ultimate on-field role model.

The collective Broncos media crew today honored Bailey for his professionalism off the field and in the locker room by naming Bailey the 2011 recipient of the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award.

The media votes annually for the player who, “handles the job with some professionalism, win or lose,” said the Denver Post’s Jeff Legwold, who coordinates the award for the Denver chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

“Anything with Darrent’s name on it is special to me, because everybody knows what kind of player he was and what type of guy he was, so thanks a lot,” Bailey said.

The PFWA started the award in 2007 as a way to honor Williams, the young Broncos cornerback who was murdered on Jan. 1, 2007 following a New Years Eve party downtown. Previous winners include John Lynch, Ebenezer Ekuban, Elvis Dumervil and Mario Haggan.

Bailey joked to us that it was unexpected, because he didn’t think he was too cooperative this year.

I can speak for the rest of the media crew by saying that certainly was not the case. Bailey was available for interviews after each game, win or lose, and we appreciate his honesty and candor about his own performance as well as that of the team. He spoke to the media scrum — all the television cameras and radio microphones — weekly, and always makes himself available to print reporters, a rarity for a player of his experience and stature.

As the longest-tenured Bronco, Bailey’s voice is a respected one in the locker room, but also in the Broncos community at large.

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