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Former Bronco's second career goal: Build a Super Bowl champion as GM

Currently a Buffalo Bill coming off knee surgery, former Bronco great Von Miller wants to follow in the footsteps of John Elway, John Lynch.

INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since he was about to become the Broncos’ No. 2 overall draft pick in 2011, Von Miller is here at the NFL Combine. 

This time it’s about what he wants to do after he’s done playing.

Miller wants to one day become an NFL general manager.

“This is what I want to do,’’ Miller said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS Thursday at a downtown Indianapolis hotel. “I wanted to do this one time before in college when I took my poultry science class and I sat in that class and said If I don’t make it in the NFL and it doesn’t work out, this is what I want to do.

“So this is my second time really feeling like that. It’s what I want to do. I don’t have any experience. I know what a great football team looks like. I know what a winning football team looks like. A great staff, great equipment guys, great athletic trainers. I know what that looks like, I know what it takes to build those teams but that’s it.

“So I’m here to meet with guys, for the guys to give me instructions on what to do with my right foot next and what to do with my left foot next. And make the first steps to making this happen.”

Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 29, 2011, file photo, Denver Broncos' first round draft pick, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, poses with the Broncos' vice president John Elway during an introductory news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The Broncos' summer break began with an ominous message from superstar Von Miller. The Super Bowl MVP suggested he'll sit out the 2016 season if general manager John Elway doesn't meet his contract demands over the next month. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

'The Dream Started with John'

He said his renewed inspiration came from the guy who drafted him. Even if there was once tension between GM John Elway and Miller during a prolonged 2016 contract negotiation, Miller always respected his boss.

“To be honest the dream it really started with John,’’ Miller said of the Broncos’ 16-year Hall of Fame quarterback and 10-year general manager. “To see a former player come back in the league and be a GM and win a Super Bowl as a player and win a Super Bowl as a GM? Oh my gosh. That’s where the dream really started. John Elway won a Super Bowl on the field and off the field. He’s the GOAT.

“And then you leave and you go to L.A. and you’re around Les Snead and you think you can be a cool GM, too. And then you leave there and go to the Buffalo Bills with Brandon Beane and you think, this job is really attractive. What do I have to do next to make this happen?”

Credit: AP
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Denver, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

John Lynch is another role model for Miller. Miller said he remembers Lynch shadowing Elway as GM the year they interviewed Miller here during the 2011 NFL Combine.

Miller is here a second time meeting with GMs and scouts to get some pointers on how to get started. To be clear, Miller wants to keep playing for the Bills. Long enough for his two young sons, 17 months and 3 weeks, to understand what daddy does for a living.

“I want to get to a spot where they remember and I’m not just on YouTube for them,’’ Miller said. “So another four or five years. My mom always says if you want to make God laugh, start making plans. I’m not making plans. I’m right here where my feet are. I’m a Buffalo Bill, I’m trying to be the best pass rusher I can possibly be.”

If it happens, the GM thing, Miller will come to understand the biggest adjustment from player to executive is money. As in one wants it and the other doesn’t want to give it. For two years, 2016-17, Miller was the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. And he is one of the few non-quarterbacks to earn two, $100 million contracts. Can Von Miller the GM eventually say to Von Miller the player: We can’t pay you that much?

“It’s always about finances,’’ Miller said smiling. “But for me it’s a way to really stay attached to the game that has done so much for me. I can’t be a coach. I hate using can’t. But I can’t be a coach.”

OK, Von. Start building a team. A winning team.

“Quarterbacks are always No. 1,’’ he said. “You’ve got to find a great quarterback, you’ve got to find a great head coach and a great defense. I’ll put defense third on that list. Quarterback, head coach, defense. I’m a defensive guy so I’ll figure out a defense. That would be the order I’d put them.”

Credit: AP
Buffalo Bills linebacker Von Miller (40) is carted off the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Miller said he is recovering well from his ACL surgery that caused him to miss the final five games of the 2022 regular season and the Bills’ postseason. Several prominent NFL analysts said after the Bills' home playoff loss to the Bengals that Miller’s absence was the difference.

“It’s tough,’’ Miller said. “They brought me in to be the Von Miller pass rusher I’ve been in the playoffs (9.0 sacks in his last six postseason games spread between 2015 and 2021.) And to not be able to do that with the guys it was tough. With the playoffs we only lost four games the entire year. But when you have high expectations those losses hit hard.’’

Even if the Broncos are now in his rearview mirror…

“They could never be in the rearview mirror,’’ Miller interjected. “I’ll always be a Denver Bronco. I will always bleed orange and blue. That’s where I grew up. The Denver Broncos will always be in my heart. I’m always a fan, I’m always watching.”

He did have 110.0 of his 123.5 career sacks in his 10 ½ years with the Broncos and he will one day go into the team’s Ring of Fame – probably the same year he is elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Anyway, his thoughts on his former team with quarterback Russell Wilson now having Sean Payton as his play-caller and head coach?

“I’ve said it before, last year with Russell Wilson was an anomaly,’’ Miller said. “New environment, new team, a lot of different variables. Do you make excuses for the guy? No and I’m sure Russell won’t make excuses. But I firmly believe this coming-up year will be Russell Wilson’s year.’’

And with that, Miller was off to meet with “whoever will meet with me.”


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