Commentary

WYO’s Field Notes #4: A Von Miller Conundrum

Featured Photo Credit: © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn.com, LLC.

While NFL players from previous eras were far from behaving like angels, these days criminal/violent behavior seems like an every week occurrence in the league. It’s uncommon now for sports teams to go for any length of time without some horrible behavior being reported about one of their players. It’s what happens at the intersection where big money meets opportunity to misbehave, or something worse.

It’s so easy to be judgmental about players from other people’s favorite teams when terrible things happen. We often feel compelled to cluck on about how glad we are that so-and-so from Team Z isn’t “our problem”.

But what happens when it is?

When Von Miller faced allegations of domestic violence last year, it was certainly a day of reckoning for fans of the Buffalo Bills. After all, weren’t the Buffalo Bills supposed to be an organization that was above bringing in “problem players”?

Whether you believe the brass in Buffalo really does have a “family first” priority with respect to player behavior or not is up to you. It’s also up to you whether you give a rat’s butt about player behavior at all. Many fans don’t.

Well, this fan does.

When the news first broke about the domestic violence allegations against Von Miller, my heart sank. I read about some questionable behavior he displayed in the past, of which you are free to go peruse the Google if you so choose. The point of this post isn’t to rehash Von Miller’s personal history.

It’s to discuss the question about how we go about processing our ambivalence regarding our favorite team’s players when they are accused of doing bad things. Again, for some fans it’s a no-brainer. They don’t care about anything but what a player does on the field for their favorite team.

But for others like myself, we grapple with love for team and the realization that some players of said team will behave in ways we find reprehensible. Is it rationalization to think any given player might feel remorse and truly repent their sins?

When the recent press conference with Von Miller was posted a few days ago, I eagerly pulled it up on my computer to look at. I was curious to see how much would be “media speak” on Von’s part. Of course, certain parts of it were definitely media speak, but the old psychotherapist couldn’t close my eyes to what else I observed.

Von Miller’s always seemed like a forthright guy with the media. So I suspect Brandon Beane and VP Derek Boyko put the halt on Miller talking with the media in the immediate aftermath of the previously mentioned allegations. I get it.

What I also hope and suspect happened were some very deep discussions between Brandon Beane and Von Miller at the end of last season. Von often mentions his desire to become an NFL GM someday and apparently has a deep respect for Mr. Beane’s tutoring.

This is a relationship I think we can all learn something from.

One of Mr. Beane’s greatest attributes in my opinion is how measured he is with respect to everything he approaches. No euphoria, no hysteria, no shirking accountability. Also a man with a good heart. A man with this level of mental and emotional intelligence is hard to find in any profession.

When Von Miller took a pay cut to relieve some cap pressure Beane was up against, that spoke volumes to me on so many levels. First, it’s not every day you see a guy of Miller’s stature in the league take a meaningful pay cut without griping about it.

Beane supported Miller through some dark days last season… both allegations made about domestic violence and a lot of criticism that Von was not going to give the Bills a good return on investment. In return, Miller took a significant pay cut so Beane could get other players signed. This support no doubt occurred because Brandon Beane is an uber competent general manager and Von is fortunate to learn from one of the best.

It’s great when there’s a win-win situation that could have otherwise proven disastrous if poorly handled.

What I saw in Von Miller’s recent press conference (see above) was a man who is much more relaxed with himself and answered reporter questions with thoughtful responses. He made solid eye contact and genuinely seemed excited about how his young sons are now old enough they will remember their father’s career later in life.

There’s an awareness in Miller’s comments pondering how much longer he will be able to play NFL football. He’s very well aware time stands still for no one, especially aging athletes. Von also emanates a sense of appreciation for all that Brandon Beane is teaching him about “GMing” along the way.

However, what heartened me the most from this Von Miller interview was how it opened a door for personal exploration about what it means to let go of judgment and look for reasons to ‘BILLieve’.

Editor’s babble: Negotiating the journey of life one day at a time, lol. These types of situations force us to find our authentic self while loving a team that’s not always easy to love. This and more of my nonsense can also be found on Xwitter @RobynMundyWYO.

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