ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos' No. 1 selection from the 2011 NFL Draft made his first stop in Denver since being drafted. On Friday,
Constantly branding the experience as "surreal," Miller introduced himself to the local media and explained a path to the draft influenced by a rock-solid family life and a college head coach that reminded him of his father.
Before Miller saluted his audience with a "Howdy," Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway explained why Miller's background makes him a perfect fit in a Broncos jersey for years to come.
"We’re really excited about having Von, who is a great football player, but even more importantly than that, he’s a great person," Elway said. "I think he is going to represent the Denver Broncos very well."
Miller has the word "relentless" tatooed where his neck meets his chest, but he could count at least two occasions where he almost deviated from the path that led his selection as the No. 2 overall selection in this year's draft. Each time, Miller's father changed the linebacker's mind.
He always thought he would be a running back or a wide receiver, so Miller considered transferring high schools when his coaches switched him to defensive end. But his dad said, 'No.' When Miller went home and told his father he was thinking about transferring colleges after a rough spring at Texas A&M, Dad told him to turn the truck around and head back to College Station, Texas.
"My dad, when he says something and you don’t want to do it –- it is not like you can second-guess it," Miller said. "In my family, I respect my mom and my dad a lot. So when they tell me something, I just try to honor it. I just ride with their opinion. He told me to go back to school and it all played out. Thanks, dad!”
But Miller's father never planned for Von to touch a football field, let alone be drafted by an NFL team. Miller said originally his father was against his sons playing the sport, so his mother signed him up in secrecy when he was in fifth grade. Until her husband found out at the end of the season, Gloria Miller stashed a pair of shoulder pads in the back of her Suburban and had her son change in the car.
"My dad really didn't want us to play football, and my mom being a mom, she really just wanted us to be happy," Miller said.
Far removed from the days of De Soto Youth Association football, Miller could share tears with both his father and his mother when his name was called in New York.
"I am a big family guy, so I trust my dad and his decisions," Miller said. "We are all in it together, and when he asks me to do something, he has always given me great advice."
COLLEGE STATION CONNECTIONS
In Texas A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman, Miller found a man he could confide in, a man who would consult him on life decisions and push him to achieve. In other words, Miller found a coach that had "the same vibe" as his parents.
Miller's first meeting with Sherman solidified his choice to attend Texas A&M, where he would play all four years, lead the nation in sacks his junior year and earn the Butkus Award presented to the country's best college linebacker as a senior.
“The first time I met Coach Sherman, he asked me what I wanted out of this deal," Miller said. "I told him I wanted to be a great football player, and he always held me to that standard."
The opportunity to compete at a new position and fulfill a promise made to his mother to earn a degree compelled Miller to return for a senior season, but the primary factor that drew Miller back to school had nothing to do with either circumstance. Despite the chance to bolt for the NFL after a junior season in which he compiled 17 sacks, Miller came back to play with his new family.
“I really enjoyed being in College Station with my teammates and my brothers," he said. "I really had no reason to leave –- we had great guys coming back."
A NEW TEAM
To start, Miller plans to earn the respect of his teammates by playing more Robin than Batman. He said he will play Sam, or strongside linebacker, with the Broncos, but winning football games concerns him more than personal success.
"My strength is on third downs, coming off the edge, and I might be able to take a little bit of pressure off of Mr. Elvis Dumervil and Mr. (Robert) Ayers and all those guys," Miller said.
"I think we can all work together as a team. I'll be a sidekick. I'll take on the bad guys for them. It's all about contributing to wins. I just want to come in, find my role and do whatever it takes to contribute to wins."
The drive to succeed is evident in Miller's speech. With a disciplined approach built in North Texas, Miller wants nothing more than to validate the organization's decision to draft him.
“I'm a team guy," Miller said. "I want to put my teammates in great situations. I just want to get it done. I want to come in and help the team win. It's all about wins.”