DENVER — Inside Broncos headquarters, the team’s players, coaches and football staff are respectful of the quarterbacks they have.
Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater get all their attention and nothing but.
Outside of the UCHealth Training Center, Broncos Country is less deferential. Even the guy checking names at the All Star Celebrity Softball Game in the upper deck auxiliary press box at Coors Field wanted to know if the Broncos were getting Aaron Rodgers.
>>Video above: Broncos keep Von Miller by exercising $7 million guarantee option
But if Rodgers, who is currently the disgruntled quarterback property of the Green Bay Packers, is all Broncos fans are talking about on the outside, then such noise has a way of leaking to the inside, too.
"What have I heard?" Broncos’ star pass rusher Von Miller said in a conversation with 9NEWS at the Rally Hotel prior to his participation in the celebrity softball game Sunday. "First and foremost, I’m comfortable with Drew, I’m comfortable with Teddy. G.P. (George Paton) and John Elway, if A-Rod is out there for us to get him, those are the two guys to have on the job.
"John Elway, he’s done a great job of working the big-time guys before -- Peyton and DeMarcus and Aqib -- all these other guys. So if there’s a guy to be had, G.P. and John Elway are the two to put on it, if it can be done. If it can’t, I’m comfortable with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. They’ve impressed the hell out of me, and impressed the hell out of everybody during OTAs.
"So I’m super excited for those guys. Another year for Drew Lock, I think this will be the time for him to turn it on. So either way we go, it’s looking bright for us."
Miller joined placekicker Brantdon McManus as Broncos participating in the celebrity softball game Sunday at Coors Field. They played for Team (Todd) Helton that defeated Team (Jenny) Finch, 20-10. Miller legged out a bunt single in his first at-bat and later scored on Vinny Castilla’s prodigious clout to left.
"To be honest, I haven’t played much softball but I’ve heard that golf is a little bit tougher than baseball and I’ve been working on my golf swing for about three months so hopefully it’ll translate over," Miller said. "I’m just trying to get on base, anyway."
On a more serious note, the Broncos. Five years have gone by without Miller having a chance to defend his Super Bowl 50 MVP award he earned for his dominant pass-rushing performance against Carolina to cap the 2015 season. In the five years since, the Broncos have gone, in order: 9-7, 5-11, 6-10, 7-9 and, last year as Miller sat out with an ankle injury, 5-11.
"That’s just part of the game," Miller said. "We’ve dealt with all type of things coming up to this point. This is the best team we’ve been able to field in a long time. The offense is going to be ridiculous. We’ve got Courtland, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Albert O – I don’t want to go through the whole thing -- Melvin Gordon and all these other big-time guys. The defense is just as stacked.
"A lot of guys are motivated. Everybody’s tired of losing. Everybody wants to win and I’m excited. Not being able to go to the playoffs the last five years, everybody’s feeling it at Dove Valley. From John Elway to G.P. (George Paton), the chefs and cooks, everybody involved. We should be highly motivated to go out here and play some good football this whole season."
Other topics Miller addressed with 9NEWS:
*Longevity. He’s not talking Tom Brady territory yet, but don’t think that just because Von is 32 years old and in the final year of his contract that he’s thinking about hanging’ ‘em up. To the contrary.
"I’ve got a son," Miller said. "He’ll be here in about three or four weeks. I definitely want him to be able to see me play. That’s going to take about 5 to 7 years. That’s what I have on my heart, that’s what I have on my mind, another 5 to 7 years. Whatever God will give me, I’m going to take it."
*His ankle that ruptured six days prior to the season opener last season that led to surgery and missing all 16 games.
"I’m feeling good. My ankle is about 94 percent. The 6 percent I got to get I got to get rushing the passer in practice with pads on, leaning on guys, guys leaning on me. I haven’t rushed the passer in over year. Haven’t played in a game in longer than that.
(New right tackle) Bobby Massie is a helluvan opponent to go out there against every day in practice. And Garett Bolles and all these guys so the extra 6 percent I’m going to have to get that on the football field.”
*Personal goals. They got interrupted last season. He is still ranked 25th all-time with 106.0 career sacks. A younger Von previously stated a 30-sack season, and breaking Bruce Smith’s career mark of 200 sacks as realistic goals. With the wisdom of experience, he appears more inclined to let the game come to him.
"I’m just simplifying it. Last year I got caught up in, not stressed out, but I felt the tension of being 31 and I wanted to prove to you guys I’m this, I’m that. I know I have a lot of good football left.
"My emphasis this year is just to be with the guys. If you remember last year, I was tense -- I’ve got to go out there and show these guys. Now, I feel like I don’t have to play that type of game especially for myself mentally. I just want to go out here and be the best Von that I can possibly be on and off the ball field.
"I’m a great locker room guy. I’m just excited to be back in the locker room with these guys, have fun and joke around. And travelling. Those are some of the things I missed last year. Travelling with the team and flying on the (team) plane and pregame and postgame – I missed all that stuff. I’m going to focus on those things. I miss having fun with the media. I miss all of those guys.
"My focus this year is whatever happens, happens. Me and BMac, whatever happens this is our contract year, so have fun, be with my teammates, stay in the moment."
*His confidence in fellow pass rusher Bradley Chubb returning to form following Chubb’s recent offseason ankle surgery.
"I’m confident. It’s been on and off for us since he came into the league. We all know what we can do when we’re on the field. Not just me and Bradley. We’ve got Shelby Harris, and Dre’Mont Jones, a lot of great guys on the inside. We’ve got a great team.
"This is the best team we’ve been able to field in a long time. I just want to stay in the moment. I want to be the type of leader and type of player that I know I can be and not focus on the outside stuff. I can’t really control that. Just have fun."
*One floor below where Miller was talking at the Rally Hotel in McGregor Square was a baseball memorabilia exhibit featuring the finest copy of a PSA 10 graded 1952 Mickey Mantle card that is owned by Marshall Fogel. The card is said to be worth up to $25 million.
The subject struck Miller’s cord.
"There’s only three of those," he said of the PSA 10 grade Mantle card. "My buddy Rob Gould he has one of those three. I got a PSA 5. Mickey Mantle, 1952, PSA 5. It’s a little rough around the edges but it’s still got a lot of value to it. I just got into baseball cards probably 6 months ago."
*On why he decided to participate in the Celebrity Softball Game when so many others like him might have passed.
"I’m a huge fan of baseball," Miller said. "When they transferred the game here (from Atlanta), I just had to. Denver’s a good sports town. And if I didn’t play, I mean, you guys would be on my back. Denver’s a great sports city so I had to be a part of it."
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