I don’t envy the young man, that’s for sure. 2011 NFL Draft hopeful Von Miller certainly could never have envisioned being in the situation he’s in even just a short year ago. Miller, a versatile pass-rushing linebacker from Texas A&M that is expected to go somewhere in the top-1o of this year’s Draft, isn’t just in the home stretch of fulfilling his ultimate dream — being drafted by an NFL team. Nope, instead his name is attached to the ongoing litigation between the NFL and its players. How this came to be for the soft-spoken and clearly humble young man is not quite clear. You certainly won’t hear him talking about it in detail.
Nor will you hear him slipping up and saying anything that even closely resembles an opinion on the unresolved labor impasse. That must partly be a product of Miller’s noteworthy character. But let’s be real as well. The stakes are high, real high — even if we’re just talking about the battle for public perception. And you better believe that high-powered attorneys and the NFL’s most recognizable stars have reminded him time and again that he’s not to say anything or do anything that would shed negative light or unwanted attention on the players.
For better or worse, that just means that Miller is not the most dynamic of interviews at this particular moment in his career. He’s been fed a script about the topics we want to hear him talk about, and bless his soul, he’s sticking to it with aplomb despite it making him come across as not exactly the most transparent, engaging, or interesting guy in the world. Like I said, I don’t envy him in that regard. Just keep on keeping on for now Mr. Miller. Things will sort themselves out before you know it and you’ll be back to doing what you love to do — chasing down the ball, making plays, and leading a defense somewhere in the National Football League.
Miller joined XX 1090 in San Diego to talk about what his daily itinerary is like these days as he prepares for the 2011 NFL Draft, how his competitive nature helps him stay focused on doing the best he can at events like the Combine and workouts for NFL teams, the one-of-a-kind experience of playing at Texas A&M, why he chose to return for his senior season in College Station when he could have declared last year and likely been a reasonably high draft pick, how he’s not yet received a formal invitation to attend April’s Draft in New York City, whether he’d go were he to receive that invite in the upcoming days or weeks, if anybody has been in his ear about boycotting the event considering his visible involvement in the players’ lawsuit against the NFL, how exactly it came to be that his name was included in the ongoing litigation brought forth by the players, and how he’s managing the unusually heavy burden of being a part of the labor dispute while also trying to remain focused on fulfilling a lifelong dream and making it to the next level.
On just how competitive he is when it comes to maximizing his ‘measurables’ at the Combine:
“I mean, I’m very competitive. I live my life very competitively. Every day I just compete in everything. Competing in drills every day with those guys in Orange County, I think it just helped me a lot with this Combine.”
On why he returned for his senior season when he could have easily declared last year and been drafted high:
“I had promised my mom I was going to get my degree, but the real reason is I wanted to come back with my teammates. I went to school out there with Cyrus Gray, Garrick Williams , and Tony Jerod-Eddie, and we all played high school together at DeSoto High School. And I had one more y ear to be with those guys, and I felt we had a pretty good team with Jerrod Johnson and Jeff Fuller and everybody. I really wanted to be a part of that, and we did pretty good this season, so I guess everything turned out great”
What it was like playing in front of the loyal fans at Texas A&M:
“If you haven’t been to a Texas A&M football game than you haven’t experienced college football yet. We’ve got one of the best facilities, we’ve got one of the best stadiums in college football. There’s great facilities out there with Ohio State and LSU and Michigan, but our stadium, we’ve got 85,000 fans and they’re standing up the whole game and yelling in unison. It just doesn’t get as good anywhere else as Texas A&M. I love it. Gig ‘Em.”
Whether he’s been formally invited to this April’s NFL Draft in New York City:
“Formally I haven’t been invited to the NFL Draft and I haven’t received a formal invitation yet. But I always dreamed of gong to the Draft, walking across the stage and shaking the Commissioner’s hand. It’s always been a dream for me, and it’s still a dream for me. I’m just taking it day by day, one day at a time.”
If he’s decided what he’ll do were he to receive an invitation to attend:
“No sir, I’m still just going to take it one day at a time. At this point in my career right now, I’m just taking visits and working out with teams and that’s really my priority right now. I really haven’t thought that far into the future.”
Has anybody talked to him at all about attending the Draft:
“Yeah I mean, I talked to my dad and I talked to some guys about going to the Draft but it really hasn’t been a huge priority of mine just yet. I’m just trying to work out and get ready for these upcoming workouts.”
But he surely has been following along to some degree to the big story concerning whether this year’s draft class will boycott attending the event at Radio City Music Hall:
“Yeah I’ve followed along with it. But it’s not really a huge deal for me. My grandfather, he had an aneurysm this week, and my grandmother, she never flew before in her life. So I’m still dealing with those situations. So maybe I might have it back home in DeSoto. But right now I don’t know. I’m just taking it day by day, one day at a time.”
On his name being included in the players’ lawsuit against the NFL:
“It’s just one of those situations. I can’t really get in depth about it. But I was asked to join an elite group of guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Mr. Vrabel and Mr. Brady and all those guys. And I was asked to help out in the situation, and I’m a team guy — whatever I can do to help those guys, that’s what I’m ready to do.”
On who approached him to be a formal part of the lawsuit:
“I was counseled by a couple of guys Super Bowl weekend and the weeks following that. But it really wasn’t just one guy, it just happened. Out of all the college guys out of college guys that it could have happened, it just happened to fall in my life like that. God, he has mysterious ways working with things. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
If he’s at all concerned that his involvement in the litigation might in some way backfire against him:
“My ultimate goal all my life is just to play football. I never ever expected myself to be in this situation that I am going into this Draft. So everything is just a plus for me. I would hope that they wouldn’t hold that against me or anything like that. But if I end up on a team, it doesn’t matter to me which team I play for. I’m just going to be happy to play football. And the reason I’m on this thing right now is just to make sure that football continues to get played.”
On how he’s managing the burden of dealing with all this added pressure for a young man that’s just trying to fulfill a dream and make it to the next level:
“God. I’m just walking with God faithfully taking it one day at a time. This is the plan that he laid out for me. And what he has for me is what he has for me. No one can stop him from, you know….nobody can stop me from receiving my blessings from God. I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, and whatever happens happens.”