“Stick with him! Think of chewing gum … if he’s chewing some, by the end of the game, I want to know what flavor it is!”
—Coach Norman Dale
A few years ago, the Washington Redskins traded young but established star cornerback named Champ Bailey to the Denver Broncos for a young but established star running back named Clinton Portis. Most people thought the Broncos won the trade; even if Portis was a better player, Bailey was a star at a position that didn’t have any (and, of course, with their borderline illegal blocking scheme, the Broncos would have no trouble producing another 1,000-yard rusher. His name was Reuben Droughns).
Now, there haven’t been any clear winners in that deal. Each team has won a single playoff game, and both guys played a fairly significant part in those respective wins (gratuitous linking to that Bailey interception…NOW!). My hard-to-get-to point is this: At the time of the trade, Champ Bailey was the best cornerback in football and the only one who could even be considered a shutdown guy. Bailey was the only player who made teams think twice about throwing his way. And he wasn’t even that good, at least not by “Best Cornerback in the League” standards. (No offense to Champ, but he couldn’t hold a candle to guys like Darrell Green, Deion Sanders, even Aeneas Williams.)