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Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Warren Sapp join Von Miller to help create pass-rushing Picassos

RIDGEDALE, Mo. — When Hall of Famer Bruce Smith was tearing past offensive tackles toward an NFL record 200 career sacks, he never considered sharing his knowledge with anyone outside of Buffalo.

As Warren Sapp built his own Hall of Fame career on the back of 96.5 sacks and four First-Team All-Pro appearances, he wouldn't even speak with an opponent who played for a division rival.

Back then, an event like Von Miller's 2018 Pass Rush Summit likely would've seemed comical.

But times have certainly changed — and both Smith and Sapp have come around on the matter.

"We want to teach the game and leave it in a better shape than it was when we got in it," Sapp said Thursday at Big Cedar Lodge. "And this is the way to do it: to pass along a little knowledge."

As they gathered Thursday for the summit, the focus wasn't on which player played for which team.

From the Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri, Von Miller, Shaquil Barrett and some of their NFL peers shared pass-rushing tips and received instruction from Pro Football Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Bruce Smith, among other pass-rushing coaches.

Instead, Miller, Smith and Sapp led pass-rush drills and a film session designed to improve the quality of pass rushing across the league.

Rushing the quarterback, Smith said, is an art. And both he and Sapp have decided they'd like to see that art get better.

"I just want to see more Picassos and more Van Goghs because I'm sick of these quarterbacks on Sundays throwing the ball 40 times and walking out [looking] pristine," Sapp said. "We've got to band together like brothers, like the quarterback club. … We've got to get us some sacks and some rushes on these quarterbacks.

"The only way to do it is Von Miller inviting the best that you can find to come out here and get some good work done."

For more than five hours on Thursday, that's exactly what Sapp, Smith, Miller and a group of young pass rushers did.

Smith and Sapp offered a number of tips, and Miller and Co. got the chance to try out some new moves. In the film room, the group watched cutups of each of the attendees, including Miller's teammate Shaquil Barrett.

Von Miller and some of his family went to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park after a long day of honing their pass-rushing skills.

"[The summit] shows the unselfishness of Von Miller and what he's trying not only to bring to the game but to help these young men to be successful," Smith said. "That's what this is about: success. Success in life. He's passing down skills, one player to another. And hopefully one day, they'll do the same thing."

Miller, who called himself "an open book" after the on-field work ended, shared a number of his own moves with a group of young players that included Miami's Charles Harris, Pittsburgh's Bud Dupree and Houston's D.J. Reader.

The Super Bowl 50 MVP — who picked up some new moves of his own for this season — views helping these young players as more than just a kind act.

In his own unique way, Miller explained how the summit represents something much bigger.

"I think with great power comes great responsibility," Miller said. "It's bigger than just a rivalry. It's a small brotherhood of pass rushers. It's kind of like the Legion of Doom. You've got all of these villains. Outside of the Legion of Doom, they go at each other.

"But right now we're going to share knowledge to get better and go against the Justice League."

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