The 2019 season hasn’t gone the way Von Miller wanted, either personally or as a team. The Broncos are mired in a 4-8 season, teetering on their third-straight losing season, and the linebacker has struggled statistically, recording only 6.0 sacks so far this season.
But those two things haven’t been the hardest part of Miller’s season. That came last Sunday, when he missed a game for the first time since the 2013 season.
“It was hard. It was extremely hard,” Miller admitted on Thursday. “I cried real tears, as a 30-year-old man.”
Leading up to the game, the MVP of Super Bowl 50 remained convinced he’d be on the field against the Chargers.
“I thought, especially at the beginning of the week and the way that I’ve healed over my career, I thought I was going to be able to put it out there,” Miller added. “But MCL is just an important ligament, especially with my game.”
The nature of the injury is why the linebacker ultimately didn’t play last week.
“All exotic movements, I really couldn’t do,” Miller explained. “My game has a foundation in exotic movements. I took it all the way up until the deadline and just couldn’t do it.”
Even when it became apparent that he couldn’t do what he needed to in order to be successful on the field, No. 58 wasn’t ready to admit he wasn’t going to play.
“I couldn’t even say it; I couldn’t even say I wasn’t playing,” Miller continued. “I had to let them make that call because in my head I had already geared my mind up. I was ready to go, I went to sleep the night before and went through all of my pregame rituals. Everything that I do, I was getting ready for the game and I just couldn’t do it.”
Even though it was only one game, being on the sidelines made the linebacker appreciate what he normally gets to do on Sunday afternoons.
“As a pro football player, my identity is sewn into playing football,” Miller said. “It’s sewn into playing football. It’s sewn into getting sacks and being out there with my teammates. That’s what I do well right now. To have that taken away, just for three hours, I really felt it.”
That experience is motivating the Broncos pass rusher to be back on the field this week against the Texans. But that’s far from a sure thing.
“I feel better,” Miller told the media at Dove Valley. “It’s not something that I just get over like that. It takes a little bit of healing time, but I do feel better. I feel better than what I did yesterday. That’s all I can really hope for.”
But he’s not going to rush onto the field, no matter how much it pains him to not be out there with his teammates.
“My main focus is just getting healthy and taking whatever time that may be to get healthy,” Miller added. “I already play my position undersized, so when you take away the exotic movements that make me who I am, it changes the type of player that I am. I’ve got to be able to get that back to go out there and play. If I don’t have that back, then I need to take time to get back right. But if I can get that back, if I can get the exotic movements back, then I have an opportunity to play.”
One thing that won’t impact that decision is the location of the game. Even though the Broncos are in Houston, where Miller suffered a torn ACL in ’13 that ended his season and kept him out during Denver’s Super Bowl run, playing the Texans will have no bearing on his status.
“No, I don’t think that matters,” Miller said. “I think I just had to worry about getting myself out on the football field. I’m doing everything I can possibly do. I usually heal like Wolverine. Whatever it is that I can do, whatever the trainers need me to do and whatever we can do as a whole, I’m doing that.”