In his 10 years with the organization, Champ Bailey was always a professional. In his departure, he was much of the same.
"He handled it like a champ, like he always has," John Elway told 9NEWS on Thursday of that difficult face-to-face meeting with the cornerback.
The Broncos' general manager and head coach John Fox met with the 12-time Pro Bowler on Wednesday to break the news. They were nervous going into that conversation but said Bailey's attitude toward the situation put them more at ease. Although the decision was a difficult one, the organization felt that it was one that needed to be made.
"That's always the tough line to draw, especially when you have a guy like Champ Bailey that's been a part of this organization for such a long time," Elway asserted. Bailey would be owed $10 million during the upcoming season and releasing him – although tough – was the correct move to make for the team, Elway said.
"This is the hard part about this business. We basically have to make the best decision for the Denver Broncos, and we thought this was the best decision. As hard as it is to do, we just thought it was time," he continued.
Fox said they did consider the possibility of having Bailey take a pay-cut as well as moving him to the safety position. But in the end, the choice was in the interest of the team and the player.
"We came up with what we did that is going to fit best for both Champ and for us," the head coach said. "He had a great career and did great things for us, we wish him nothing but the best."
The Broncos will miss his leadership in the locker room and on the field. Fox conceded that the younger players must step up in his absence.
Bailey will pursue the possibility of playing on another team in the NFL.
"He'll go out there and see what opportunities are out there for him," Elway said. "We thought where we are right now, for us the best decision was to go a different direction."
No matter how rational of a decision it was for Elway and Fox, letting Bailey go nevertheless was a very difficult task.