Final Stats: 103 plays: 47 on offense, 44 on defense and 12 on special teams.
That was the workload for Champ Bailey of the University of Georgia in Folkston, Ga., in the 1998 Georgia-Florida game at TIAA Bank Field. It was a 38-7 loss to the Gators, but no one on either side had that time card.
“I’m still tired,” Bailey said Friday before he and three other past All-Stars raised the number of Georgia-Florida Hall of Famers to 116 during a luncheon at the TIAA Bank Field East Club. “I played a lot, but it was what I wanted. And I was lucky to have a coach [Jim Donnan] who allowed me to do a lot of the things I wanted to do.”
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Bailey, a cornerback, wide receiver and returner for the Dawgs from 1996-98 who went on to a 15-year NFL career and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, highlighted the 2022 Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame class that included Georgia. safety John Little, Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell and UF QB/wide receiver Trey Burton.
A versatile group
Two of the four inductees, Caldwell and Burton, went on to NFL careers that included each earning a Super Bowl ring, Caldwell with Denver in 2015 and Burton with the Eagles in 2017.
Burton threw a TD pass to Nick Foles against the Patriots in that Super Bowl trick play, “The Philly Special” on fourth down that was called by now Jaguars coach Doug Pederson.
Bailey had the longest and most distinguished NFL career, spanning 15 years with Washington, Denver and New Orleans. He holds the NFL record for passes defensed with 203 and had 52 interceptions, and his 12 Pro Bowls are a record for a defensive back.
He made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, but said his induction into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame wasn’t an afterthought: The city actually wanted to induct him a long time ago, but his NFL schedule prevented him from going to the Georgia-Florida weekend. Florida.
“The schedules just didn’t line up,” he said. “It’s just the way it turned out, but I’m still very grateful.
The Georgia-Florida 2002 class is a testament to versatility and work ethic. Bailey and Burton played multiple positions during their college careers. Caldwell impressed both receiving and running. And Little filled the key “Rover” position in Georgia’s defense, which required the skills of a safety and linebacker.
Little said there’s a reason the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame includes former Bulldog linebackers Little, Bailey, Terry Hoage, Jake Scott and Scott Woerner.
“A lot of the defensive backs in Georgia back then were quarterbacks in high school,” said Little, who played the position at Panama City Moseley. “I think it gave you an advantage, you could predict what the quarterback was going to do a little bit better.
Bailey, Smart teamed up to star in 1997
Bailey faced the Gators three times, from 1996-98, with the Bulldogs going 1-2 in those games. He had five tackles in a 47-7 loss in 1996 and two tackles in a 37-17 upset win in 1997, one of four tackles the Dawgs made that day (current coach Kirby Smart had two) and broke up. up two passes.
Bailey said Smart was “intense” at every practice and game.
“What you see from him on the sideline is a resemblance to what he was during the week of the game in practice and then in the game,” Bailey said. “He was a playmaker.
But Bailey’s best individual game came in a 38-7 loss in 1998 when he contributed in all three phases of the game. He had four tackles and three assists on defense, caught eight passes for 99 yards, returned one punt for 8 yards and returned two kickoffs for 29 yards.
Bailey, who lives in Atlanta and works for Peach State Health Plans, had seven games in which he played 100 or more snaps that season.
He told the audience at the luncheon that growing up in Folkston, he was pulled both ways, which he said was 50-50 between the Bulldogs and the Gators.
“Steve Spurrier was sitting in my living room,” Bailey said. “But my mother raised me like a bulldog.
Amazingly, Bailey noted that Spurrier became his coach in Washington in 2002 and 2003, bringing in former Florida Gators Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews and Jacquez Green.
Bailey then went to Denver and played two seasons with Tim Tebow.
“Maybe I’m the only one who does. [been in the NFL] with those Heisman Trophy winners,” he noted of Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow.
Caldwell wins the rivalry
Caldwell, who played in the NFL from 2008-15, caught 15 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns and had one rushing touchdown in four appearances against Georgia. In the 2006 game, in a 21–14 victory for the Gators, he caught eight passes for 88 yards and a TD and had five runs for 28 yards and another score.
Caldwell, who now heads DuWell TV, a production company in Atlanta, called Georgia-Florida “the greatest rivalry in college football between the two biggest states for college football” in a fiery and emotional acceptance speech.
Burton’s best game against Georgia was his freshman season and also the only time he was on the winning side of the contest in a 34-31 overtime victory in 2010. Burton had 17 rushes for 110 yards, caught five passes for 35 yards and completed two 26-yard pass attempts.
“I’ve been watching all four games with my kids the last two days so they get the hang of it,” Burton said. “What it is and what it means. It’s physically demanding, super-chips.’
Little’s Georgia teams went 2-2 against the Gators from 1983-86. In four career games at Jacksonville, he had 21 tackles, two for losses.
Little’s best game was in 1985 when the Dawgs stunned No. 1 Florida 24-3. He had two solo tackles and seven assists.
“It just goes to show you that rankings never matter in this game,” Little said.
A year earlier, in a 27-0 loss to UF, Little had five solo tackles and two assists.
“When we lost one in Florida, it took you two months to get over it,” he said.
Contact Garry Smits at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GSmitter