Broncos linebacker Von Miller opens up to SI about his contract negotiations, Aqib Talib, Johnny Manziel and hanging out at Drake’s house.
LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Last week, Von Miller returned to Denver to receive his Super Bowl ring, autograph 1,000 items and buy 50 champagne bottles as the Broncos celebrated their championship from Sunday night late into Monday morning. SI.com spent Monday with Miller. He had a lot to say—about contract negotiations, Johnny Manziel, Drake... and even about that champagne. We asked who foots the bill for those 50 bottles, and Miller gave a simple answer: “I got it, man. It’s Denver, not L.A. About $200 a bottle. [Broncos general manager] John Elway got me. I got them. [Laughs.]”
Here are other quick tidbits of note from our conversation.
On contract negotiations
“I don’t like to think about it,” Miller says of the contract. “That’s like negative energy. I’m going to be here.”
The linebacker repeatedly said that he’s not getting caught up in the negotiations, even on the same day that Fletcher Cox signed with the Eagles for $63 million guaranteed, or $23 million more in guaranteed cash than the Broncos’ best offer to Miller so far. Miller was happy for Cox, but he remained honest about his own situation.
“It just hurts,” Miller says. “I’m not even going to lie. It’s a business but at the end of the day, I got feelings, too. I know some fans don’t know that some of the reports aren’t even true. When I get on Instagram, no matter what I post, there’s going to be 400 comments. Guys bashing me. Take the deal. You greedy bastard. I thought you wanted to be a Bronco for life? And it kind of weighs on you after a while.”
Miller compared what he wanted from this courtship to what he received from his alma mater Texas A&M when the university recruited him in 2007. The school sent handwritten letters almost daily, cropped him into a team photo and generally fawned over him in ways that schools like LSU and Michigan did not.
“You know you got that girlfriend that’s really not like that attractive but she’s like really good for you, and she’s going to do everything she can to keep you?” he says. “Instead of that really, really hot chick that just talks to you on Mondays. It was like that, above and beyond. That’s the same type of feeling I’m looking for from the Broncos.”
Miller’s father, Von Sr., weighed in as well, and he didn’t rule out sitting out or holding out as an option, even as he described that possibility as an extreme scenario. “You’ve got this spectrum [of options] from left to right,” Von Sr. says. “And the left is all of the worse [scenarios], and then you tend to go over to the right where everything is good. So we want to stay on the right but that’s a potential to go far left. Far left is sitting out. That has to be one of the last and final options that you have. He’s not looking forward to that. He loves being with his team. He loves his teammates. And his teammates know.”
So sitting out is a possibility, even if it’s a remote one?
“It’s got to be there,” Von Sr. says. “It’s got to be a part of the play. It’s got to be part of the process. Do we want to go down that road? I would say not. We definitely don’t. I don’t want him to go down that road.”
On Aqib Talib
Miller says he saw CB Aqib Talib at the ring celebration after Talib suffered a gunshot wound to his lower right leg in Dallas. “That’s my guy,” Miller says. “We’re from the same spot. I’m from [near] Dallas, too [DeSoto], so I kind of know the situation out there. It’s just an unfortunate situation. But he’s lucky. He got a young son and a young daughter.”
On Johnny Manziel
Miller says he remains in regular contact with Manziel, the former Browns quarterback and A&M star. “I want to be that consistent friend,” Miller says. “I see the reports [of Manziel’s drug use, rehab stints, etc.], but when I see him, I feel like he’s at peace. I’ll be the last guy who ever stops being friends with Johnny. Life is what’s most important there. I still think he’ll be a great NFL football player. But life is about more than just football.”
On hanging at Drake’s house
Miller has been living in the Hollywood Hills for much of the offseason. He has spent some time in Calabasas, Calif., hanging with Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. who is living sometimes at Drake’s house. Miller described the compound—complete with a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, a 30-foot waterfall and a grotto—as “an inspiration.”
“It just shows you what kind of guy [Drake] is,” Miller says. “He basically gave Odell his house for a couple months.”
On Peyton’s future
Miller thinks Peyton Manning, the Broncos QB who retired after the Super Bowl, will eventually become an NFL personnel executive. “I think he’d be good running a team,” Miller says. “He’s just that type of guy. He can relate to everybody. I can see him being a great GM in the league.”
On his offensive skills
Miller says he lobbied Gary Kubiak, his coach, to play some offense this upcoming season. “If you just put me out there, they’re going to think I’m getting the ball,” he says. “Then just throw it to [the wide receivers]! Of course, I’m biased about it, but like I really do think that it could happen. I’m fast. I can jump. I can catch.”