On the surface, the decision for former Texas A&M Aggies linebacker and native Texan Von Miller to become a member of the Buffalo Bills seemed simple, considering the team gave him a fruitful six-year, $120 million deal as he heads into his 12th season at age 33.
After being traded from his longtime Denver Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams in Nov. 2021, Miller only spent about three months with the Rams before winning Super Bowl LVI and heading into the offseason with his next destination uncertain.
He had secured his second Super Bowl ring and was set to hit free agency. Multiple teams were interested in the aging linebacker, including the Rams, who seemed destined to bring him back for a run at repeat titles after the magical postseason the team had.
And even minutes before signing his contract with the Bills, it was this magical feeling that nearly made him change his mind once he arrived at the Buffalo facility.
Miller talked about the ordeal on The Volume's Open Mike, as he detailed the back-and-forth hesitation he felt before signing a deal that would likely lock him in for the remainder of his career.
"It was a tough decision for me," Miller said. "I wanted to be a Bill, I wanted to play for the Rams, didn't want to leave the Rams, didn't want to leave Aaron Donald, coach (Sean) McVay. I made the decision but it wasn't set in stone. I had made the decision, the news broke and stuff and everybody is looking at me like 'Bro, why you not happy?'"
Miller made it clear how tough the decision was to leave a team like the Rams and a place as wonderful as LA to go to what was seemingly an entirely different world 2,500 miles on the other side of the country in Buffalo.
Miller admitted he even considered telling the Bills to fly him back and he would offer to cover the private jet fees that they just spent on him.
"I really don't want to leave the Rams," he said. "I got on the plane and I'm gonna go out here and tell (the Bills) like 'I know what I said, I'll pay for the jet that you guys flew me out here with, but I'm going back to the Rams.' And I got there, landed, it was cold. We went to get some food - didn't like the food - it's just hard coming from LA to Buffalo. But when I got there and drove up to the facility, I started to feel a little bit better. I started to meet all the guys that's working at the facility from the trainers, the support system ... and everybody and I started to feel a little bit better.
But then, the reality of the situation hit Miller: he was at the threshold of making one of the biggest decisions in his career.
"Then they were like 'Okay let's go upstairs and sign the contract,' and was like 'Dang, I gotta go sign a contract?' I went upstairs, my agent was there. I asked 'Can I go to the bathroom?' Went to the bathroom with my little brother and my cameraman and I'm taking to these guys like 'Man, I don't know what to do. I don't know if I'm gonna do this man.'"
The 6-3, 250-pound linebacker was huddled in the bathroom with his brother and cameraman upon his first arrival. To get a sense how of much he wanted to return to LA, look no further.
"They sent somebody from the Bills into the bathroom to get me," Miller said. "I come out, my agent is like telling everybody to go out for a little bit, (and said) 'Let me talk to Von.' He was like 'Man, just give me a hug.' He hated seeing me like this, he wanted me to be happy, to be excited to be here - which I was - but I just didn't want to leave the Rams."
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The back-and-forth battle in his head continued for nearly an hour as Miller continued to talk with his agent, Joby Branion, about what to do. While keeping the Bills staff waiting, he got a surprise visit from two top assistants.
"I'm sitting there talking to Joby for like 45 minutes ... and I hear a knock on the door and it was coach (Eric) Washington and coach (Leslie) Frazier that came in and broke down exactly how they gonna use me on the defense ... and I started to feel a whole lot better," Miller said.
But the visit paid by coach Sean McDermott seemed to bring Miller over the edge of uncertainty to sign his lucrative contract. McDermott, who was hired as the team's head coach in 2017, used his experience to show Miller that he understood the indecision he was experiencing.
"I was in there for another 20 minutes so now it's been a little over hour that I've been sitting in there, still haven't signed the contract, Miller said. "And coach McDermott knocks on the door and he sits down with me and tells me 'Man you know what, I get it. It's Buffalo. When I told my kids that I was taking a head-coaching job here in Buffalo, they cried. But now, they love it and it's a special place. It doesn't look like it, but you will love this place too."
McDermott was blatantly honest with Miller, something that the linebacker appreciated. The Bills, who are coming off an 11-6 season that saw them fall a possession short of an appearance in the AFC Championship, have all the tools necessary to get back to that position and don't necessarily need Miller.
McDermott didn't mince his words and told Miller exactly that.
"'We're not bringing you here to save us, we already got a good team," McDermott said, per Miller. We just need you to put us over the top. We want you to do the same thing that you did with the Rams.'"
Despite being open about his hesitations to sign with Buffalo, Miller has been just as honest about his newfound love for the team and the city since his arrival.
"Just by my limited time there man, it really is a special place and I do love it," Miller said. "I played in cold games before and I started to get this vibe like man this is the right decision for me to make and I signed the contract and I'm a Buffalo Bill.
Luckily for Miller, he won't have to wait long to make a trip back to LA and SoFi Stadium. In the 2022 season-opener, the Rams will host the Bills on Thursday, Sept. 8, as Miller and his new team aim for an early-season takedown of the defending champs.
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
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