BRONCOS

‘Nothing but mad love’: Why players embrace Von Miller

Nov 9, 2023, 11:54 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Two teams removed from his salad days in Denver, Von Miller still refers to the Broncos as “we.”

“That makes sense,” inside linebacker Josey Jewell said Thursday. “I mean, he was here for a long time. So, I’m sure anybody would say it in that case. Everybody loves him here, so that’s good.”

Indeed, just because Miller doesn’t have a locker-room nameplate doesn’t mean he’s not still around. No. 58 has remained unissued by the team’s equipment staff.

The spirt of Miller remains strong, even as he practices his craft in Buffalo, where he will face the Broncos for the first time on Monday Night Football.

“I love him. I truly do,” left tackle Garett Bolles said. “I miss him. We text very now and then. But I think that friendship that me and him are going to have is for a long time. It’s never going to go away.”

“Von’s just a genuine dude,” added Jerry Jeudy. If you just be ardomound him, [there is] just a lot o great energy being around him. I can’t really say nothing else. He’s just a great dude, for real.”

And Centura Health Training Center hasn’t been quite the same without him.

“It’s been tough,” Bolles said. “… His presence is still here. We feel it. You have Baron (Browning) that has learned a lot from him, and (Nik) Bonitto and those guys.”

VON MILLER, LOCKER-ROOM WELCOMING-COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON

Something was lost when the Broncos traded miller to the Los Angeles Rams eight games into the 2021 season. And it wasn’t just the pass-rush production, which the team has only been able to replicate in fits and starts.

No, it was his presence beyond the field, specifically in using his prominence within the team to make newcomers welcome.

Whether you credit it to Yeats or The Simpsons, there is the notion that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met. Miller lived that maxim every year when a new class of rookies walked into the locker room.

“Von’s a cool dude. That’s one of the guys who, when I first came in, he showed me a lot of love, showed me the ropes around here,” wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Ask a former Broncos draft pick of the last few years and you’ll get a similar response. Miller made many a nervous young Bronco feel like a part of the team. And to earn Miller’s respect was to earn a distinction that mattered.

YOU CAN’T EXPECT TO REPLACE HIM

Over two years have passed, and the Broncos are still searching for moon with the presence of Von Miller. That’s not to say that they can’t eventually find a similar blend of personality, prominence, on-field success and social warmth.

But Miller was as special off the field as he was on it.

“Oh, yeah. Replacing Von, that’s somebody big, somebody different,” Jeudy said.

Part of the equation for Miller was his willingness to help offensive linemen — including Garett Bolles. Bolles said he called Miller “Big Brother,” while Miller called him “Little Brother.”

“I love Von, man. I have mad respect for him,” Miller said. “He’s probably one of my greatest mentors when it comes to learning the left-tackle position. Just so many memories and so many hours of just talking with him.”

Miller freely shared pointers with Bolles, some of which were gleaned from their one-on-one work together in pass-rush drills.

“Just helping me understand the game of football when it comes to what a D-end looks at, keeping my shoulders square, using my hands and moving my feet,” Bolles said.

“I have nothing but mad love for him.”

So does the entire Broncos team that remains from his last season in orange and blue.

Broncos

Sean Payton Broncos under wins...

Will Petersen

At least one expert has the Broncos going under 5.5 wins in 2024

The Athletic's Vic Tafur published his prediction for each team, and despite going 8-9 a season ago, he has the Broncos taking a step back

1 day ago

Broncos QB Bo Nix...

Andrew Mason

Bo Nix described by teammates as ‘really mature’ and having ‘an aura about himself’

The maturity of Broncos first-round pick Bo Nix has jumped out to veteran teammates like Courtland Sutton and Zach Allen.

2 days ago

Sean Payton...

Jake Shapiro

Sean Payton dunks on Colts after his famous play is outlawed

Sean Payton called an onside kick in the Super Bowl, an exciting play and a decision that sticks as a famous one for the Broncos coach

2 days ago

Peyton Manning Tom Brady...

Will Petersen

Peyton Manning surprised Tom Brady at his Patriots HOF induction

Tom Brady definitely didn't know Peyton Manning was going to be there, and there's a great moment when Mike Tirico brought out No. 18

2 days ago

Andre Smith...

Andrew Mason

Broncos add a seven-year veteran to their inside linebacker corps

One day after concluding minicamp, the Broncos chose to add to their ILB room, bringing in Andre Smith, who was most recently with the Falcons.

2 days ago

Jarrett Stidham and Bo Nix Broncos QB...

Andrew Mason

Jarrett Stidham will gather Broncos QBs, WRs, RBs and TEs for extra work

In the tradition of recent Denver Broncos QBs, Jarrett Stidham will gather teammates for throwing sessions during the offseason downtime.

3 days ago

‘Nothing but mad love’: Why players embrace Von Miller