<
>

Von Miller: 'I want to be a GOAT-type player'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- He seems to smile, dance and sail through life on social media, sharing the moments he strives to find each and every day.

He’s a free spirit "who likes to think out of the box," and yet, as Von Miller approaches his seventh NFL season, the Denver Broncos linebacker believes people don't see his passion for the game or why it all means so much to him.

"I don’t have any control over that, what people say, what people think," Miller said. "But I want to be the best player in the National Football League. That’s what I go out there to be every time I play. … Over time, my play and the type of person I am will speak more to that. Maybe when I’m done, after playing 17 years or whatever, we can revisit this and see.

"I want to be the best player, no question. I want to be a GOAT-type [greatest of all time] player, like the guy upstairs."

The guy upstairs is Broncos chief football decision-maker John Elway, who's also a Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the greatest of all time. Elway is the guy who green-lit the biggest contract ever for a defensive player when he signed Miller to a $114.5 million deal in July.

In February 2016, Miller helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 and was named MVP. He hit the talk-show circuit and appeared on "Dancing With the Stars." He was also in the middle of a somewhat testy contract negotiation and skipped offseason training activities, showing up only when the contract was done and camp opened in July.

"And [the Super Bowl] was bigger than you think it will be. I didn’t think it was going to be like that," Miller said. "I went into the game, I just wanted to win. We had Peyton [Manning]. We had DeMarcus [Ware]. I just wanted to win for them, for us. Never in a million years did I think it was going to be like that for me.

"I always thought we were going to win the game, but for me it was a crazy. [It] shows you if you keep grinding anything can happen. That’s the lesson. I don’t want to go back into the past, but looking back to my third year -- torn ACL and everything that happened -- never in a million years at that point did I think it was going to be Super Bowl win, Super Bowl MVP."

As he did Wednesday, Miller will talk about how far he thinks he has come from 2013, when he was suspended six games for violating the league’s drug policy and then tore an ACL. He shoves away the specifics, but said it made him see every new season as potentially his best, including 2017, which lies ahead.

Miller has arrived to the halfway point of this offseason in a much different place. In many ways, 2016 was good for him individually. He finished with 13.5 sacks on the way to second place -- by a single vote to the Oakland Raiders' Khalil Mack -- in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

It was the third season of his career with at least 13.5 sacks.

But the Broncos missed the playoffs and Miller went without a sack in the final four games. While Denver led the league in pass defense and sacks, the team couldn’t get the important stops it needed to overcome inconsistencies on offense.

"Von is like a lot of our guys," new Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "He’s not satisfied with the way things turned out last year, and it shows in what he’s done to this point. … He’s a special player, but there’s more there, I think. And he wants to get that out of himself, and we want to help."

Miller has issued his version of an offseason refrain: "I’ve never worked as hard as I’m working this season." And he knows players have said it many times, before many seasons.

But Miller said he has used this offseason to "push my body to a spot where it’s never been before. You’re never guaranteed that working hard will translate to on-the-field success, but that’s what I’m hoping for."

He outlined his goals as he stood about 10 feet from a wall of photos the Broncos installed after Super Bowl 50. It includes a couple of Miller’s big plays.

Whether people believe it or not, the 28-year-old wants more from his football career, and he expects it.

"I don’t know, it’s probably because I wear glasses," Miller said with a laugh. "I don’t get it, probably because I don’t have that tough demeanor. Maybe because I like to talk, think outside of the box on things, and it’s bigger than football for me, but football is the most important thing to me. There’s no question, I want to be better; I want to be great. I want to stand here years from now and say I didn’t leave anything on the table. That’s my mindset right now. That’s where it’s going to stay."