Bailey keeps promise made long ago

Family comes first for ex-Woodlawn football star, to be inducted tomorrow

Maryland Athletic Hall Of Fame

May 15, 2002|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Carlton Bailey was in his Charlotte, N.C., home yesterday when he made far bigger plays than any he ever made in the three Super Bowls he started for the Buffalo Bills.

Bailey, 36, changed the dressing on his 82-year-old diabetic grandmother's bandages from insulin injections, and he gave his three cousins who live with him as much love and attention as he could.

"I've always said I wanted to care for my grandmothers when they got older because I wanted them to enjoy their final years," said Bailey, who was a first-team All-Metro defensive lineman at Woodlawn High in 1982.

"My paternal grandmother died of breast cancer, making that impossible, but I've still got part of my dream alive," he said. "I pretty much take care of all my grandmother's needs. The three cousins [Michael, 15; Darryl, 14; and Danea, 22 months] are with me because one parent is dead and the other has a substance abuse problem."

Tomorrow night at Martin's West, the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame will honor Bailey for his football accomplishments, inducting him into the hall.

"This proves that if you keep working hard and doing the right thing, you will get recognized," he said. "All I want people around Baltimore to do is to use me as an example to young people in the area. I want a kid at a Dunbar High to say, `He's not [Michael] Jordan, but he did grow up around the corner and look at what he was able to do in the NFL.' "

Though he was short on recognition in Baltimore, Bailey strung together a pretty remarkable 10-year career as an NFL linebacker after playing in a high-profile program at the University of North Carolina.

Bailey played in three Super Bowls in five years with the Bills before moving on to the New York Giants for two years and the Carolina Panthers for three.

He was selected the NFL Man of the Year three times and scored the only touchdown in the 1991 AFC championship game on a deflected interception of John Elway, sending the Bills to Super Bowl XXVI.

But Bailey probably has been better-known in NFL circles than he was around Baltimore, where he grew up in the Pimlico section of the city and later attended Woodlawn junior and senior highs.

Since the end of his playing days, Bailey - who credits his Baltimore pastor, Dr. Clifford Johnson of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, for his spiritual guidance as a young man - has launched a career as a motivational speaker.

In addition to Bailey, the 47th class of distinguished Maryland athletes will include Orioles second baseman Bill Ripken, Baltimore Blast midfielder Tim Wittman and Villanova track and cross country standout Charlie Messenger.

The Hall of Fame will also bestow John Steadman Lifetime Achievement Awards to former University of Maryland athletic director Jim Kehoe and longtime boxing trainer and manager Mack Lewis.

Ripken was considered a superb second baseman, and in his first major-league season in 1987 he teamed with his brother, Cal, to form a stellar double-play combination for their father, Cal Sr., who managed the Orioles.

Wittman is the first indoor soccer player to be inducted into the Maryland hall. In 11 Major Indoor Soccer League seasons, he played in three MISL championship series and was a member of the 1984 MISL champion Blast.

Messenger and Dave Patrick (Maryland Hall of Fame '86) were on the team in 1968 that set a world indoor best in the 2-mile relay, and he was a two-time cross country All-American.

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