Denver Broncos: Will Von Miller be a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is 32 years old but still feels like he has a lot left in the tank to keep playing football.
Though some would argue that Miller’s best days are behind him, he could retire today and still be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at some point. Make no mistake, his resume is already good enough and he will get to Canton.
But is he going to be considered the best of the best to ever do it? The best measuring stick of that is when a player gets inducted into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, the way Peyton Manning did.
These players are considered slam dunks for the Hall even before their playing days are over. It’s not easy to get that kind of backing from those who vote on who gets into the hallowed halls.
But that seems even tougher for linebackers, particularly those who specialize in rushing the passer.
Currently, there are 354 former players, coaches and contributors in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of those, only 86 have gotten in during their first year eligibility since 1967, or about 24 percent.
That doesn’t create great odds for Miller, even though he has been one of the game’s best pass-rushing linebackers during his career.
A handful of linebackers have gotten in on their first try, but they have been players like Dick Butkus, Junior Seau and Mike Singletary, guys who were generals on the field but not pass rushers.
Of the linebackers on the list who did make it in on their first try, only Lawrence Taylor was really an outside linebacker who would rush the passer at a high level, and you can make the case that he is the best football player of all time (in my opinion, he is).
Miller has drawn comparisons to the great LT in his career and his performance in Super Bowl 50, where he became just the 10th defensive player to win Super Bowl MVP, is one of the best individual performances ever seen in the big game.
But what else can Miller draw on to make his case?
He currently has 106 career sacks, already the most in Denver Broncos history and tied for 25th in NFL history. He has done that despite missing time due to injuries and suspension during his career, a time where he could have added to that number.
In total, Miller has missed a possible 25 games during his career, including all of last season. If he even averaged a sack every other game in that time, that would still be 12.5 more he could add to his total, at the least.
How does Von Miller’s resume stack up?
He also has nearly 500 career tackles, 25 forced fumbles and two interceptions. In addition to that, Miller has been voted to the Pro Bowl eight times and been chosen as a First-Team All-Pro three other times. He was also the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011.
That is a pretty impressive resume and it is one he can continue to add to even he has another good three years or so of solid productivity left in him.
Back in 2018, Gil Brandt listed 11 current players who he felt were first-ballot Hall of Famers. Miller did not make his list, though guys like Antonio Brown did.
Those who won’t vote for Miller during his first year of eligibility, whenever that may be, will point to his 2013 suspension for violating the league’s policy against substance abuse. They may look back on his 2019 season where he wasn’t nearly as productive and then missed the next year entirely due to injury.
But there is no doubt that when Miller is healthy and on the field, he is one of the best players out there every game and his talent speaks for itself.
A good barometer of how the eventual vote for Miller could go might come when both DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers are eligible to be voted in. Both of those players are in the top 10 in league history in total sacks, but both of them also played some defensive end during their careers, where Miller hasn’t.
Ware will be eligible next year.
Miller will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there is almost no doubt about that. Hopefully, he doesn’t have to wait long for that call after he hangs up the cleats.