The Denver Broncos are arguably the best team in football right now with a record of 6-0, but they figure to get even better when All-Pro linebacker Von Miller returns to the fold in Week 7.
Miller has finally finished serving his six-game suspension, and he had plenty to say about it in an interview with Mike Klis of The Denver Post.
Miller, 24, was suspended prior to the 2013 regular season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to Klis. The suspension was originally only supposed to last four games, but the ban was increased when it was discovered that Miller colluded with a urine collector to corrupt his drug-testing sample, per NFL on ESPN.
BREAKING: Von Miller tried to unsuccessfully corrupt the NFL's drug testing program with the help of a urine collector.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 22, 2013
When asked about the incident involving the urine collector, Miller seemed unwilling to go into specifics.
"I can't go back and defend something that was in the past. I've already served my suspension. I've already started to do everything to keep forward," Miller said.
Miller tested positive for marijuana in 2011, according to Klis, and Ian Rapoport reported that he is now in Stage 3 of the NFL's drug policy, which means another violation would result in a one-year ban:
Despite that, Miller told Klis that he doesn't have a drug problem:
I don't have a substance-abuse problem. I feel like I've definitely made some mistakes in the past. I can't shy away from that. But I'm working hard to fix it. I'm working hard to gain everybody's trust back. All I can ask is people judge me from my actions going forward. I'm working hard to gain trust back. I'm very confident I'll be able to do that.
While the past six weeks have probably gone quickly for Broncos fans with Peyton Manning and the offense leading Denver to a historic start, Miller insists that it felt like an eternity to him.
"It hasn't gone by fast, though," Miller said. "A lot of people have said it went by fast. It hasn't. It wasn't easy. And I don't want to get away from that. I want to stay with that focus that it's not easy."
There is no denying that Miller is one of the league's best pass-rushers when he is on the field, as evidenced by the fact that he has 30 sacks in just two NFL seasons. But maturity has been a big question mark since he entered the league. In addition to the substance-abuse issues, Miller was also cited for driving without a license in September, according to CBS Denver.
It remains to be seen if Miller has truly matured over the past six weeks, but he believes that he has, per Klis:
I feel like I have matured. Some guys have a lifetime to mature. I think I have matured in the six weeks, eight weeks, 10-week span faster than most guys. ... Still, every single day is a challenge. It's not just the big things like traffic citations. It's waking up with the alarm clock. It's the constant grind with procrastination.
Will playing well allow Miller to put his issues in the past?
Many will continue to question Miller regardless, but it certainly seems as though being away from the football field took its toll on him.
"Having football taken away from you—it already meant a lot to me before, but it means so much more to me now," Miller added.
It may take some time for the Broncos organization, as well as Broncos fans, to forgive and forget, but Miller can expedite that by producing on the field. There is no doubt that Manning would love to beat the Colts in his return to Indianapolis in Week 7 on Sunday night, and Miller has an opportunity to play a big role by making life miserable for second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
If Miller makes that type of instant impact, then the healing process can truly begin for everyone involved.
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