It’s not often you see players in their prime step away from the game. Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Robert Smith just to name a few. But when they do, it’s no less than shocking. They were three juggernauts at their positions who all hung up their cleats far too soon. How could players who had so much left leave the field they love? Contract dispute? Injury? There are many reasons but the signs just don’t seem to be there. The question remains on who will retire after this 2016 NFL Season.
In the case of Denver Bronco’s OLB Von Miller, he appears to be leaving a trail of gratitude and thanks as someone who is about to step away from the field. Granted, this is all simply conjecture. Miller signed a massive 6-year contract extension this past off-season after a lengthy holdout. But bare with us as we break down some of the clues that Von Miller is leaving.
Wine Gifts to all AFC West Players
Earlier this month, Von Miller gifted bottles of personal-branded wine. Not just to teammates, but ALL of his rivals in the AFC West. Each bottle came with a personalized note (emphasis ours):
It is an honor and a privilege to take the field and compete with you twice a year. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to fulfill our childhood dreams of playing in the NFL. The blood, sweat, aches and pains, and endless hours spent watching film are a testament to the love and dedication we have for this game. So take a moment, reflect on all your successes, and enjoy your accomplishment. Appreciate those who have helped you get this far, and start working towards your next childhood dream.
Thank you for helping to make our game great!
— Von Miller
The note exhibits the passion and reality that a player like Von Miller has towards the game. However, the kicker is the last line in his note: “start working towards your next childhood dream.” It’s quite curious that Miller is referring to what is next. Even more curious that he would gift the wine to players he faces twice or more a year. But why now? Perhaps his new found money warranted an early Christmas present.
His Top 5 Toughest Guys He Ever Faced
Today, Von Miller penned a detailed letter on the five NFL players he ever faced. in the The Players Tribune. Innocent enough. Many players contribute to the website offering thoughtful introspections, from the X’s and O’s to life outside the game. But one can’t help but compare the gesture to another recently retired player. Charles Woodson.
Shortly after his retirement, Charles Woodson wrote to ESPN about the toughest opponents and greatest moments in his career. Both pieces clearly involve much retrospection of their own careers. However, this evidence of a Von Miller retirement is admittedly weaker. Woodson spoke in the past tense, while Miller spoke as a player in the league now. But don’t expect Von Miller to write the same article twice.
He Himself Pictures Retirement
In August, Sports Illustrated published a piece highlighting Miller’s off-season. Most noteworthy was how involved Miller was in entertainment while his hold-out dragged on. Becoming a newly knighted Super Bowl MVP opened a lot of opportunities for the outside linebacker. From appearing on The Ellen Degenerous Show to doing Xbox One commercials, Miller couldn’t help but reflect:
“I really didn’t see myself doing all this before,” Miller says. “I pictured retiring and raising chickens. Now I want to be like Michael Strahan. On TV.”
The self-comparison to Michael Strahan is compelling. Shortly after his New York Giants defeated the then undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Strahan went on to become one of the biggest media personalities. But perhaps what is more telling of the quote is the next one. Von Miller concluded what his future needs to hold (emphasis ours):
“What could be better than this?” Miller asks, gesturing toward the practice fields, his parents and brother standing 20 feet away. He answers his own question. “O.K. Defensive Player of the Year, another Super Bowl, moonlight at tight end, return some punts, raise some chickens, the next Michael Strahan. . . .”
“I want all that dope stuff.”
So perhaps in a few short months, we will all know.
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