First things first: There is no bittersweet for me.
I’m a Broncos fan, and I will be for the rest of my life. So breaking records —whether it’s mine or another — means that players are excelling at their position and at their craft. So I was excited.
For me, football is something that I did for a living that allowed me to raise my children in a grand fashion and educate them thereafter. It’s never been a selfish deal. A quarterback sack, to me, is a team play. The defensive backs have to cover. The guys up front have to get push up the middle. The opposite edge rusher has to contain the play. And so, for me, it takes 11 guys to get a sack. I never saw it as a personal achievement.
I still remember the play that gave me the sack record, though.
It was in the late second quarter, and of course I wasn’t thinking about the record. And so when I got it, in my mind, I’m getting ready for the next play.
But all of the sudden, everybody’s just standing there, and Dave Wyman, who we had acquired from Seattle the offseason before, came running up, and I thought he was going to jump in my lap. But he picked me up and held me up in the air.
And I’m looking around the stands hoping this guy doesn’t drop me, because I’ve got a game to finish.
And then Ronald Holmes came over.
“You finally did it, you lazy rascal!”
Because I had more football to play, it really didn’t set in until the game was over and I was in the locker room. Of course the media came, and we were doing interviews.
I’ve always been kind of reserved, but I told them that was one of the goals that I set when I came to the team. From the time I hit Denver, I thought that was a very attainable goal — to have the sack record.
I never had any idea that it would last 25 years.
When I watched Von play his first couple of years, I told Terry Frei in 2013, “In my opinion, Von Miller is the best pass-rusher I’ve seen in a Broncos uniform.”
Of course, he was 67.5 sacks behind me at that point, but I was just looking at the way he approaches the game. He’s always in optimal condition. He plays the game like a kid who’s just out there having fun, doing what he does.
He does those silly dances — I mean, Fred Astaire could teach the kid something about dancing — but to see somebody enjoying what they do for a living like that is really inspiring.
I had my fingers crossed that he would get a sack. I was driving in from Houston, and I made the mistake of betting a former teammate. I bet $25 on lunch he would get it on the first two series, but it took until the third quarter.
But that’s OK.
It was clear to me when he took off from the line of scrimmage on that play, he had such a burst of speed. I’m like, “Ok, this is it. This is it! He got him!”
When it happened, the whole atmosphere in the stadium was electric.
After the game, I headed down to the locker room.
We have a good friendship. It’s not one where we call each other on the phone and we sit and share our week’s experience, but when we do see each other, I feel like he’s a long-time friend.
When he looked up and saw me, I was about halfway across the locker room. And he stopped what he was doing, he got up, and he was approaching me.
He went to extend his hand. I opened my arms.
This is a hug moment. This isn’t a high-five or a handshake. This is what we’ve been waiting for since you started playing football here. This is an embrace.
And while we hugged, I told him, “Great job, I’m so proud of you.
“Now go and get Reggie White and Bruce Smith. You can do it.”