Farewell to Johnny Bailey

Posted by Darren Urban on August 22, 2010 – 7:38 pm

Johnny Bailey made a Pro Bowl for the Phoenix Cardinals back in 1992, when he led the NFL with 13.2 yards per punt return. He averaged more than 11 yards a punt return as a rookie for the Bears in 1990. But Rod Graves — now the Cardinals’ general manager who was part of the Bears’ front office that drafted Bailey back in 1990 — doesn’t think football when he first thinks of Bailey.

“I remember Johnny as a delightful guy who always had a smile on his face,” Graves said.

Bailey died last week of pancreatic cancer. He was just 43, and only 18 years removed from his all-star season (a picture of Bailey’s Pro Bowl appearance is below).

Only 5-foot-8, Bailey was a superstar at Division II Texas A&I (then Texas A&M-Kingsville), leading all Division II colleges in rushing in 1987, 1988 and 1989. He won the Harlon Hill Trophy — Division II’s Heisman — three times. Graves, who was also from Bailey’s hometown of Houston, and the Bears saw enough to look past Bailey’s size and draft him in the ninth round. Later, Bailey came to Arizona (he also played for the Rams), showing off his spectacular return skills for a couple of years.

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Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »

21 Responses to “Farewell to Johnny Bailey”

  1. By old school g on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    rip sus dog

  2. By Fitz4Mtrushmore on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    God Bless Johnny. I remember watching him electrify us as Cards fans & really hard to believe it’s been he’s been retired from the game so long.

  3. By Brian R. on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    Rest in Peace

  4. By chem dawg on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    i remember watching johnny bailey during a preseason game along time ago on t.v., maybe 90 or 91. think there was hype about how we were supposed to be good w/ tim rosenbaugh, rickey phroel & jonny johnson if im not mistaken.
    wow, what a trip. rest in peace mr. johnny bailey. my condolences.

  5. By Danny Heksolson on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    Oh yes! I remember him clearly; he was a great punt returner for us that season, rest in peace Johnny and thanks for everything!

  6. By Big Red on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    I’ll always remember Bailey,as one of my favorite Cardinals. He was a good running back and special team player. The reason I used to like him was,cause of the number he wore, used to be my # in high school. I’ll never forget him and may God bless his soul. Cardinal always, 54 years of being a Cardinal fan. I’ll always remember your running style. #1 Cardinal Fan.

  7. By BluePitt on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    I rember you Johnny, Rest IN Peace!!!!

  8. By Dan on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply

    Man, I loved watching that guy run, what a bummer. That really sucks. RIP Johnny. Damn, nice wake up call…… life to the fullest even if it sucks.

  9. By trigidy22 on Aug 22, 2010 | Reply


  10. By Luda on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    A memorial website was created for Johnny Bailey! Honor his memory by contributing to his memorial site

  11. By MikeG on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Nice Blog!!
    I remember Bailey with Phoenix-he was good on
    special teams and a good situational back. Very
    unfair what happened to him– shows you how precious
    life is!!! Nice to remember him!!!!

  12. By Tinted Face Shield on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    I remember him when he first came to the Cardinals. I was so excited back then, and I remember his blazing speed, and his quick burst

  13. By vsancards on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    I remember Johnny Bailey are one of my favorite players. I just started watching the Cards and became a season ticket holder during those two years he was here. I enjoyed his heart and guts. I distinctly remember him and Larry Centers as two guys from small schools with big hearts! RIP

  14. By Dustin on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    RIP Mr. Bailey.

    Urb –

    Question for you, will the final 2 preseason games be available over the NFL cable / satellite packages. I am going to be watching it here in New York and want to make sure I can.



  15. By Darren Urban on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    Dustin —

    If you are in New York, I am sure NFL Network might replay them. If you want them live, you’d need to sign up on for their preseason package.

  16. By aaaaudio on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    I think I have a couple of his Player Cards still from the Cardinals. Along with some Ron Wolfley and Neil Lomax! That is certainly a young age to pass after being such an elite athlete for all those years. 43 sure makes you realize how short life is. That being said, seems like the season is taking forever to get here!Do it for Bailey!

  17. By Dan on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    He was in a jail hospital too, man what a shame. Guess he got busted for robbery, he was still a good guy though and fun to watch. Kinda disappointed in the whole jail. He was always real nice….bummer.

  18. By Mitch on Aug 23, 2010 | Reply

    Johnny “Fuzzy” Bailey was my teammate, my friend, and my brother by the Grace of God..I watched JB do amazing things while he was at Texas A&I University.. He propelled our team to 3 LSC Championships with his quick moves, speed and incredible vision..He was something to see in person without doubt. He was not a perfect person, but none of us are, and he will be missed by many in Houston, Kingsville, and the NFL..I am proud to call him my friend, my teammate, and my brother..Rest in peace my friend, and know that Trey will be watched over by all the Javelinas..

  19. By Greg Dennis on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Farewell Ozark Ike.

  20. By ShannonRobinson on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks guys for the memories of Johnny B. He was lightning quick over the middle and never fair caught his punts – long on courage. A Tip of the Cardinal Wing for all the electric thrills you brought – Thank you Johnny, we’ll light a candle for you.

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