What it’s like to compete against Champ Bailey

ATHENS, GA – In this corner: Non-trad returning fourth-year junior and future DAWGS journalist, Han Vance. Versus: One of the greatest NFL defensive backs of all-time, then-freshman Champ Bailey.

With a record of 3-1, we felt our team was close to evenly matched with anyone in the packed new SPACE Center. And our draw that night was a collection of Donnan’s Dawgs playing their non-primary sport of basketball in the intramural A-league at UGA. We were an assortment of graduates of Lassiter and Pope High Schools in Marietta, former varsity, and AAU and club league players with honed basketball skills. We had a shot to beat them and were down by 4 points late. But our goals fell short that night.

We’d quickly realized we were lacking something in the general athleticism category in match-ups with their (defensive backs and running backs) guards but had quicker hands and feet than their mammoth post players. We hung around and lost by 10, with us having to intentionally foul late as we ran out of time to match their score.

Before that, Champ had already been kicked out of the game for twice hanging on the rim on fast break dunks. I had the ball in my hands and my shorter opponent wedged and flipped a hook shot in for my 12th point. Champ was on the bench smirking with 16 total points, and I exhaustedly congratulated myself on holding my own while guarding him for most of a game.

Earlier, I had Champ pinned and totally blocked out, and he swam around me in the air and caught the ball and windmill shot a layup. Instead of bemoaning a rebound that should have been mine, I simply said, “That was cool.” For a long stretch of the game Champ got to nearly every loose ball on the floor. He was perhaps the difference in what played out to be a close ballgame.

I did have one particular shining moment against him however that I shall remember forever. When Champ gives up a completion in the NFL, he has a frustrated little strut that he does every time. I first saw that strut in that basketball game. Champ slashed in the lane and called for the ball and caught it. As he turned to shoot, I volleyball spiked the ball out of his hands and out of bounds. He did the walk.