Von Miller spoke with SBNation’s Jeanna Thomas at the Pro Bowl last weekend in an exclusive interview for Mile High Report to talk Denver Broncos and his work with veterans through the USAA - and as usual, the edge rusher had a lot of good things to say about his coaches and teammates.
“I feel like the military services for the US and sports have a — a great connection,” Miller said of being able to give away some Super Bowl tickets to veterans.
“You know, you have to have teamwork, you have to have a great spirit. You have to be able to, you know, deal with adversity through ups and downs,” Miller said, noting his huge respect for military members. “The difference is, when we lose, you know, we’re just upset and we go home, you know, and when they lose, you know, they lose they — lose their lives even — serious things happen to those guys.”
As part of that experience, Miller even got to drive a tank.
“Man, it was — it was so cool to just, you know, be a superhero for a day,” Miller said about his chance to go to Afghanistan for a USO tour in 2013 and even drive a tank. “I met so many different, so many great guys, so many different superheroes, like real life superheroes that, you know, protect this country, look danger right in the face and they have a sense of humor about it. ...To really step into their shoes, even if it was like 30 minutes, it was very exciting for me. I enjoyed it.”
From there, the conversation took on a very Broncos-centric turn. But his excitement about the Broncos turning a corner and building toward a defensive and offensive powerhouse feels genuine.
And a lot of it stems from the energy Drew Lock brought near the end of the season.
“Man, that was so cool. I think he brings so much confidence to the team. No task is too big for him, no team is too good,” Miller said of the young gunslinger. “You know, he really — he really is confident. He’s really confident about, you know, playing football, he’s confident in the locker room and I think we all feed off of that. You know, if you’ve got a confident quarterback, you kind of, you have a confident team as well.”
Coming up on a decade playing in the NFL, Miller noted how much he appreciated the teaching aspect that Vic Fangio brought to the team - for the young guys as well as the veteran players.
“At this stage in my career, I just appreciate great coaching and I appreciate, you know, them taking the extra steps to make sure the young guys get it,” he said. “You know, you’ve got so many coaches that just focus on events and just automatically assume that people have experience, and Coach Fangio really broke it down to an elementary level for everybody.”
Miller added that if he can appreciate that as a vet, “all the young guys on the team can really appreciate that as well.”
Having one of those young guys back from injury - Miller’s sidekick Bradley Chubb - should make for a great 10th year for the edge rusher as well.
“He’s just a beast. He’s just a high energy guy,” Miller said of Chubb, adding that there isn’t one technique or move that defines No. 55. It’s just his overall presence on the field. “He’s just an overall beast. He gives great energy, great effort on every single play and I feed off of that. You know, and whenever you have high energy guys around, they make the team better.”
Looking at the Sports Info Solutions charting numbers for individual pass pressures. Von Miller has 52. Shelby Harris is second at 17.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 29, 2020
Even before you add in how many times others benefited from the attention he demands it's very clear: He was the #Broncos pass rush last year. pic.twitter.com/iFjWhyDXRE
Miller remembers playing that role with DeMarcus Ware during the Super Bowl season in 2015 - and he’s happy to transition to being the mentor.
“Yeah, 100 percent. Everything that he’s taught me I feel like it’s my duty to pay it forward to, you know, all the young players,” Miller said. “I would be doing an injustice if I kept all the great things that he taught me — if I kept them and didn’t pass them forward.”
In fact, one of the things Miller loves to do is hang out with the younger players outside of the game.
“I’m loyal to a fault when it comes to my teammates. I really like being around my teammates. I really like spending time with my teammates, especially the young guys, you know, because the young guys come in, they don’t have, you know, families yet, they don’t have, you know, kids or anything like that,” Miller said, adding that many of his teammates are his best friends but a lot of them have families and other priorities now. “So I spend a lot of time with the young guys where they don’t have any other stuff to do and I think — I think, you know, my fans already know that, you know, I’m a team guy and I like spending time with all of my teammates.”
But when it’s not with teammates, it’s often with his chickens - aka, his “kids.”
And he’s named them all after his best friends - those teammates. He has a Demarcus, DT, Emmanuel, 55 and now a 7.
“I got a seven; I just named him,” Miller said. “I just numbered him after my teammates.”
But he also has a rooster, and that one gets a special name - Peyton.
“But the rooster has the most personality, that’s why his name is Peyton.”