Through Football University and the Gatorade ‘Beat the Heat’ Program, I was able to conduct an interview over the phone with Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and talk about everything from staying hydrated to his newest teammate and mentor DeMarcus Ware.
Miller was getting set to speak to some young athletes about hydration and the folks with Gatorade were kind enough to set it up for me. Here’s the full conversation.
What are you doing with Gatorade at the Football University Camp?
“I’m here with the ‘Beat the Heat’ program, and the program educates athletes about the importance of hydration. Hot weather is hard on the body, and Gatorade has taught me that through proper hydration it can help me perform better and stay safe for training and competing in the summer. I’m from Texas so I’m real familiar with the humidity that the summer brings and how to stay hydrated and perform at a high level during those periods of time.”
How long before practice or a game should athletes be hydrated?
“You know it’s really not like a 30 minute thing or a time thing it just has to become a habit. It has to become part of what you do. It’s not like the night before you should be hydrated it’s just got to become part of what you do and become habit. That will help create the most successful way to stay hydrated during the hot summer months.”
Back to the injury vs. Houston. It didn’t look as bad as some ACL tears — were you shocked when you found out it was torn?
“I kinda knew but I didn’t want to know. I never felt my knee feel like that before. It didn’t hurt, it was just different. It just kinda like buckled on me so I knew something was weird. I was just hoping I sprained it or something but the next day the MRI — I tore my ACL and it’s just like, what are you going to do now? Are you just going to go in the tank? Everybody knows an ACL is not like a torn labrum or anything like that, it’s one of the longer recoveries out there. I just centered myself, and thought about what really mattered for me, where I want to take my career from here on out. What type of athlete I want to be, what type of player I want to be, what type of teammate…I thought about all that stuff and I’ve just been grinding ever since that day and it’s just all part of the process to be great. Just taking it one day at a time, a journey to be great, a journey to be the best and you know the ACL is just part of it.”
You’ve mentioned before that you’re motivated by stories like Adrian Peterson’s. Do you feel like you can be better and faster than you were before the injury?
“I feel like you know the ACL is tough but, I just feel like my case is different. I said in the interview that, you know everyone looks at Adrian Peterson. The ACL community looks at Adrian Peterson’s recovery and it’s motivation, but it’s guys you’ve never heard of before. Melvin Ingram, he was ready to go in six-and-a-half months and he actually played in the playoff game and had a sack and a pick, really contributed to that Chargers defense. That’s more the story that I’m–Melvin is a good friend of mine–that’s more the guys that I lean on for support. He was able to come back and perform at a high level just seven months out. The ACL recovery is a year but you can push it to nine (months) and he was able to push it to six-and-a-half. There were so many guys I was talking about that you never heard of. Me and Melvin, we’ve always been friend and we always shared advice. Adrian Peterson, he plays offense so it’s different. The Melvin Ingram story is more relevant to me.”
What was your reaction since you’re from Dallas to DeMarcus Ware being released by the Cowboys?
“You know I was a huge Cowboys before I came to the Denver Broncos and so I never saw that coming. Never in a million years did I see that coming. I always wanted to play with DeMarcus Ware, and it’s just crazy how things work out. I model my game after him. I always look at the way he plays and try to incorporate that into the way that I play. DeMarcus is just a total blessing to have on my team. It’s totally different from any relationship that I’ve had with another teammate, another pass rusher, a guy that does the same stuff that I do. It’s just great having him in there. He’s been consistent for 10 years and if a little bit of him can rub off on me that’d be more than enough.”
Did you get a chance to talk to him or recruit him at all before he came to Denver?
“It was just so quick I didn’t have any time at all. It was so quick. He got released, that night he came to Denver, and the next day he signed in Denver. It was just so quick. And I had texted him but I had the wrong number. He had just changed his number like two weeks before, because I had talked to him before. He had just changed his number but I texted him and he didn’t text me back and I was like, ‘aw maybe he’s looking at somebody else’ but the next day he signed and it was just crazy. Crazy how things work out.”
DeMarcus Ware talked about being the best pass rush duo the league has ever seen. Do you have any bold predictions or goals in mind to achieve that?
“I want to go out there and play balls out. Every single play, every Sunday. It was spotty for me before. I would be on, be off, but you’ve got to have that ‘blood in the water’ mentality. Going through all the stuff that I’ve been through, I’m just grateful. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play in the National Football League, to play for the Denver Broncos — it just means so much more to me now. I definitely want to be able to translate that over to the field and I’ll be able to show that through my play.”
Do you guys have any nicknames being throw around?
“Karate Kid, Mr.Miyagi.”
You were out on the practice field for OTAs and minicamp. What was it like being back out on the field with those guys who haven’t all been out on the field together in so long, guys who were on IR with varying injuries or medical conditions?
“It was like being on the field for the very first time again. It was like me going back to my rookie season and signing my contract and going out there and playing with those guys it was just, I mean it was just incredible. It’s just different for me now, it’s different in a lot of ways. I enjoy playing in the NFL and being a Denver Bronco and all this stuff, but going through this stuff, you just have a whole new appreciation for everything. It was great being out there with all those guys and looking around the huddle and seeing DeMarcus, Talib, Terrance Knighton, TJ Ward, Rahim Moore, Chris Harris, Sly, Derek Wolfe, Nate, and Danny and it was just incredible. I’m going to keep grinding so I can be out there with those guys when it’s go time. It was incredible I’ve always enjoyed doing it before but it was different overcoming so much and being able to put yourself back in the same situation you were before.”
Last offseason was a crazy one. How much have you changed and what have you done in your life to make those changes?
“It’s all about maturity. Everybody changes, that’s just part of living, living life. I’m in a great spot in my life right now. I’m living the dream every single day. Being able to come out here and play football, and be able to do things for Gatorade and tell my experiences and being part of the “Beat the Heat” program and all this other stuff is really like a dream come true. I really think that’s what helps me keep every day fresh and new. Knowing that I already overcame so much and I’m still in a great situation to go out there and get everything that was put there before me. It’s truly a blessing, the situation I’m in now, and I’m truly grateful for everything.”
So, the Super Bowl…That was a tough pill to swallow but I imagine tougher for those close to the team. Do you ever talk about what kind of difference all you would have made if you had been out there?
“Nah…You know, ‘coulda, woulda’ will drive you crazy, not only in football but in life. What’s done is done, and it was tough sitting there watching the team. I wish I could have been out there playing but that’s not how the dice rolled, it’s not how it all unfolded. It’s just how it is. I really can’t control any of that stuff, all I can control is what I can control, what I do everyday on a daily basis. Our organization has done great stuff to help the guys in the locker room and the whole Broncos organization in general. We’ve got a lot of new stuff going on at Dove Valley. It’s just an exciting time to be a Denver Bronco and I think my play will show that this year.”
Who is a player you think can break out in 2014?
“I think Bradley Roby is going to have an awesome year. Defensively I’ve played every position on the field. To see him, the way he moves, and just how gifted he is as a rookie, it’s definitely refreshing. It’s a surprise because rookies usually aren’t that ‘swaggy’. He’s definitely the real deal and I’m looking forward to him making plays this year.”
Tough question – who is the funniest player on the team?
“The funniest guy on the team…besides myself…would have to be…You know we’ve got a colorful locker room. There’s a lot of guys in there that are pretty funny. Rahim Moore, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, Terrance Knighton, myself — you know it’s a colorful locker room. There’s not a boring day that goes by, something new, something new and hilarious everyday in the locker room. It should make camp really interesting, I’m looking forward to it.
What is it like working with and being around Peyton Manning and John Elway, two Hall of Fame QBs?
“It’s incredible. Mr. Elway and Peyton Manning and those guys — I’ve seen them do so much throughout their career and you hear about everything and how incredible they are…It’s just refreshing when they’re just normal guys. They put the name and all that stuff to the side. Especially with Peyton, it’s just refreshing. He tries his hardest just to be one of the guys even though he’s not. He’d never be just one of the regular guys because he’s Peyton Manning. He really does try his best to be approachable and make everybody feel comfortable and be one of the guys and just be a leader. That’s refreshing, you’d lay your neck down for a guy like that. You’d try to move the earth for him to make sure he’s successful and make sure his team’s successful.”
Von is a class act which makes the 2013 offseason all the more shocking to me. He’s extremely smart, determined, and I think he’s going to bounce back in 2014 with an incredible season.
For more information on what he’s up to with the Gatorade ‘Beat the Heat’ program, check out www.gatorade.com.