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Inspired by Michael and Kobe, Von recommits to his NFL career

Broncos star pass rusher doesn't feel like he's in his Last Dance, yet.
Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller celebrates as he leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Denver.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For Von Miller, there was his bout with coronavirus in the final two weeks of April. And then there were the residual effects of COVID-19 he experienced.

“It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus,’’ Miller said in a Zoom video medial call Tuesday morning. “During the virus, I lost a lot of weight. Everybody’s symptoms are not the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell, and I really couldn’t eat. When you can’t taste or smell food, you kind of lose your appetite. I lost about 15 pounds.

“Right after I got my second negative (test results) back, I started back training, I started back running, and it was tough. No doubt about it, it was tough. It was tough just to warm up, but I just pushed through it.’’

As Miller was self-isolating and participating in coach John Pagano’s virtual meetings in the early days of his virus quarantine, ESPN premiered “The Last Dance,” the docuseries based on the final 1997-98 championship season of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Miller was inspired by Jordan’s maniacal drive to be the best.

“’The Last Dance’ came out and I watched what Michael Jordan was doing back in his prime,’’ Miller said. “And I asked myself, ‘Michael Jordan was the best that ever played. Was I really making that commitment to the game? Was I really doing the same things that he did?’

“Kobe (Bryant) was one of the best that ever played. Was I really doing the things that Kobe was doing? Was I demanding more out of my teammates? Was I demanding more out of myself? I looked in the mirror and I said I wasn’t. I just tried to change that and I tried to work as hard as I possibly could.

“I didn’t take any days off, I didn’t go on any vacations and I didn’t do anything but work out, grind and reinvest all the time that I would usually spend on endorsements. I just reinvested that time back into myself.”

Miller went through the pros and cons of whether to opt out of this season because of virus concerns, but it didn’t appear he was ever close to sitting out. He was too far along in his goal to bounce back from his 8.0 sack season of 2019 – his worst statistical season since he had 5.0 in 2013 when missed seven games because of suspension and injury.

“For me, I think the Broncos are doing a great job keeping us safe,’’ Miller said. “There are always holes and there are always going to be holes. We’re not in a total bubble. It’s not 100 percent like basketball, so there’s always going to be holes. I feel like the job that the Broncos are doing to keep us safe were enough for me not to opt out.

“Last year, I didn’t play to standards. I didn’t play to the ‘Sack Master’s’ standards. There was more for me to give. My coaches felt like there was more for me to give. Most of all, I feel like I can give more and I can be more.

“I don’t feel like I’m finished yet. I wanted to come back here and I wanted to play the best that I possibly could. I wanted to put everything into the offseason, I wanted to pour everything into myself and go out there and play the best that I possibly could and see what happens.”

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