As the Rams get set to take on the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, Von Miller won't be the only Super Bowl 50 champion whose week comes with high stakes.
His former teammate, DeMarcus Ware, is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022, which will be revealed on Thursday. Of course, Miller is hoping — and expecting — to hear that good news for his close friend.
"I really hope DeMarcus is a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Miller said Monday. "He's definitely deserving. He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It would be an honor and a privilege to go to his [enshrinement] party and live it up and go to his reunion and see all the people that had success playing with DeMarcus and all the people that helped DeMarcus be successful in his career. It'd be amazing. He's definitely deserving of it. I love the guy. We're more than just teammates and brothers all the things like I said before. It was an honor and a privilege to play with him, and it's still an honor and a privilege to have the relationship that we have."
While Miller had been exceptional in his first few seasons in Denver, Ware helped mold Miller as the former 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year entered a crucial stage of his career following a torn ACL that ended his 2013 season.
"DeMarcus, man, he came at a vital point of my life," Miller said. "I thought I knew what it took to be a superstar in this league. I thought I knew what it took to be successful in this league. But I was wrong. I was wrong. When DeMarcus got there, his locker was right across from me. We talked about everything. We talked about life, football of course, business, what to do with your money, how to handle the media, how to handle all of these things. And I'm really just a product of DeMarcus. I come from the DeMarcus Ware tree — probably one of the last ones that come from the DeMarcus Ware tree — on and off the football field.
"He's my idol. I look up to DeMarcus. In high school, I wrapped my tape and my hands, I did everything to try to be like DeMarcus to try to capture some of the energy that he had. You fast forward a couple years and he ends up coming to the Denver Broncos at a vital point of my life. I was coming off ACL surgery and really just trying to find myself again, and he helped me with that. He still continues to help me; we talk all the time. He still continues to help me out. It's more than just a brotherhood. It's more than just fellowship. That's truly my guy. I love him to death."
After Ware's three seasons in Denver alongside Miller, the Super Bowl 50 MVP continued to take his lessons to heart, sharing them in his own way as a Bronco and now as a Ram on the cusp of a second Super Bowl appearance.
"Things that we talked about, his leadership, and just by me watching him the years that he was there, especially the Super Bowl year, it's burned in my mind," Miller said. "When I come here, the way that these guys look at me, the questions that they ask, I just respond back with the words that DeMarcus told me, and of course in a Von way. But everything that I'm doing here is really from DeMarcus in 2015. I'm really the DeMarcus on this team. I'm the DeMarcus on this team. I came later in my career. Leonard Floyd or Aaron Donald, they would be me. I was in the prime of my years, I just came to help out any way that I could, on and off the football field. That's my role. I'm the DeMarcus of this team."
Below the Fold
Following the Senior Bowl, ESPN's Jordan Reid has made a new two-round mock draft, and he has the Broncos bolstering their defense with two of their top three picks, including Utah's Devin Lloyd at No. 9.
"[I]f they keep the pick, Lloyd could be the answer to getting more speed and consistency at the second level of the defense," Reid wrote. "Denver has three off-ball linebackers hitting free agency next month -- Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, and Kenny Young -- and Lloyd would add versatility and pass-rush ability to the D."