One-arm Bailey tops all NFC defenders

Updated: October 1, 2003, 5:47 PM ET

ASHBURN, Va. -- Reporters gathered around Champ Bailey's locker on Wednesday and told him he'd been named the NFC's defensive player of the week.

"What do I get for that?" Bailey said with a laugh. "Do I get a raise?"

Bailey was joking, but it was levity with a meaning. Already considered one of the best, the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the uncertain contract status looks even more valuable after forcing two turnovers in the Washington Redskins' latest victory -- especially considering he essentially played the game with just one arm.

"He's out there hurting," safety Matt Bowen said. "Everybody knows he's hurting. Maybe that's why they threw at him a little bit. They usually don't throw at Champ. They tested him, and he responded."

Playing with a broken left wrist and a sprained left shoulder, Bailey intercepted a pass and forced a tide-turning fumble in the 20-17 victory over the New England Patriots.

"When I got home, I was about to die," Bailey said. "I sat there and went to sleep. It didn't bother me much after that."

Bailey had no shortage of excuses not to play. He had allowed two touchdowns the week before against the New York Giants -- a rarity for him -- and another bad play or two could have hurt his leverage when negotiations resume for a new contract later this season.

But sitting out isn't his style. He's yet to miss a start since he was drafted out of Georgia in 1999.

"That never crossed my mind," Bailey said. "The only thing I was worried about was how I was going to play, how I was going to feel out there."

Bailey said his shoulder bothered him more than his wrist, but that the pain was bearable once he was on the field in the heat of the moment. How else can one explain his hard-charging, third-down backfield tackle of Kevin Faulk in the third quarter, a hit that dislodged the ball and set up Washington's first touchdown?

Some cornerbacks are notorious for avoiding tackles except when absolutely necessary. Bailey isn't afraid to bring down the ball carrier, even if it is the thing he likes the least.

"I don't like it, but I do it," Bailey said. "It's part of my job description, so I've got to do it."

Bailey also isn't shy when it comes to assessing his own talent. Asked after the game Sunday if he thought the Patriots were picking on him because of his injuries, he said, "Probably -- or either Tom Brady's not a very bright guy."

Bailey's contract is expiring at the end of the season, and he wants a new deal that will make him one of the best-paid defensive players in the league. The Redskins' initial offer, made in August, was so unacceptable that Bailey's agent didn't even make a counteroffer.

Bailey's remarks on the matter have revealed an apparent ambivalence. Instead of the typical "I want to play here the rest of my career" -- which nearly all other pending free agents seem to utter -- Bailey wouldn't comment during preseason when asked about his desire to remain with the Redskins.

Now that the season's started, it's a subject best left alone. There are football games to play.

"I don't really talk about it or think about it much," Bailey said. "It'll take care of itself."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index