Von Miller doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him.
The Buffalo Bills star linebacker who had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee on December 6, is staying positive despite missing the remainder of his first season with the organization after signing a six-year, $120 million contract in the offseason following winning Super Bowl LVI with the Los Angeles Rams.
“Whenever you have an injury or are trying to recover from an injury, your mental health is 75% of it, if not higher,” Miller says. “I’m in a great place mentally. I have one son—he’s 16 months—and I have another son on the way in February. The organization, the team I work for is damn good. I just choose to look at the bright things, the positive things in my life. I’m so blessed. I have multiple shots at this thing. I’m here for six years, so I’m not down at all.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to go through rehab and show my teammates how dope I am—like I have this injury and how I can bounce back from it the way I do. Just another opportunity to prove to my guys that their opinion matters most to me.”
Miller’s positive perspective has been as much a part of his focus and preparation as has been sacking opposing quarterbacks, which he’s pretty darn good at; Miller’s 123.5 career sacks rank No. 19 all-time.
After a 2019 season that he says “didn’t feel like was up to my standards,” the then-Denver Broncos linebacker and pass rusher began working with acclaimed sports psychologist and mental conditioning coach Trevor Moawad, whose clients also included Russell Wilson, Jozy Altidore, Michael Johnson and Marcus Stroman.
Miller, who recorded his 100th career sack and was named to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and eighth overall that season, had eight sacks after recording 14.5 the previous season. He would miss the entire 2020 campaign with an ankle injury.
“I started working with him and he definitely changed my perspective,” Miller says of Moawad, who passed away in September 2021 after a battle with cancer. “It just takes work. It takes constant work. Honestly, it’s a choice, too. As human beings we have choices. I just choose to be happy. I choose to be positive. I choose to look at the positive perspectives in my life.
“You can easily go the other way but that’s not going to help anybody. I want to be the best person I can be for this team, for my teammates, for this organization, for my kids, for my family, and me really getting in a little ball of self pity won’t help any of that. I choose to be positive. I choose to live in this perspective.”
Not only will Miller, a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, be rehabbing his knee with the expectations of returning to the field for the start of the 2023 campaign, but he’ll be spending his newly found free time shadowing Bills general manager Brandon Beane.
Miller, 33, has previously expressed interest in becoming an NFL GM after he retires, going from the gridiron to the front office like former standouts John Elway (Broncos) and John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers).
“I know what great teams look like,” the two-time Super Bowl champion says. “I know what Super Bowl teams are made of, not only from a player standpoint or coaching standpoint but what the strength and conditioning coaches look like, what the janitors look like, the cafeteria workers. I know what the food’s supposed to be like.
“I’ve been familiar with great teams and I’ve been around great teams. Becoming a GM and being a front office executive gives me the opportunity to still stay connected to the game that I love so much.”
Name That Triangle
Before making his Bills’ debut against the Rams on September 8, Miller made headlines for his unique hairstyle.
Reminiscent of Ronaldo’s unique look during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Miller’s entire head was shaved save for a triangular patch on the back of his head.
The cut made its way across media outlets and social media and even prompted Doritos to take notice. The brand partnered with Miller in a national contest encouraging fans to display their bold self expression with a chance to win prizes, including two tickets to Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
“At first I used to get teased for it but now it’s cool,” Miller says. “I wasn’t getting bullied or anything like that, but people definitely teased me and made fun of me for having this triangle on the back of my head, not only people I work with every day but also on social media and online. I just kept my head down and lived my own truth. I thought it was cool and stayed cool with it and now Doritos and Frito-Lay think it’s cool too.
“Just live your life—if you think it’s cool, if you think it’s dope, just do it. Everybody’s going to get slack for different things, and it’s definitely different, but I choose to live in a positive perspective. It isn’t easy by any means but I choose to live in this perspective. I choose to be positive. I choose to be optimistic and boom, here we are.”