ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the pile of pages, quotes and assorted scribbles in what is a still-growing stack of notebooks regarding the life and times of Broncos linebacker Von Miller, there is Miller’s first public response to this summer’s news that he was facing a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The more you look at it, with each passing week since, the more there is to see.
And with each additional warrant, arrest, traffic violation or bombshell like Sunday’s revelation from ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that Miller tried to influence the collector in the drug test that resulted in his suspension, the more you have to wonder Miller’s mindset when he typed the words. With reports of his suspension having arrived as the Broncos were set to open training camp in July, Miller posted this on Twitter:
“Seeing reports abt 4 game susp. I know I did nothing wrong. I’m sure this’ll be resolved fairly. Disapp. Broncos have 2 open camp like this."
At best, it looks like a well-rehearsed denial in which he was trying to convince people he couldn't have possibly have done it. At worst, it now looks like misplaced ego, especially if those charged with managing his affairs gave him the go-ahead to push the button. According to many close to him and the Broncos, Miller hasn't said much since he was advised not to by the NFL Players Association and his agents at Athletes First.
He's been told to essentially hide in plain sight as he goes about his business in the Broncos’ Dove Valley complex. So in what will almost certainly serve as a tidy case study in how not to handle crisis management in the years ahead, Miller has offered no public comment to what was officially a six-game suspension, a suspension he did not challenge after so vigorously saying he didn't deserve it, or any of the growing list of incidents/issues/problems that have come to light since.
Fine. It’s a person’s inalienable right to manage his business in any way he sees fit within the rules for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but all involved with trying to help Miller regain his balance should realize what is already documented, in both county courthouses and in the public domain, is light-years down the road from “I know I did nothing wrong."
Many experts in the art of crisis management, whether it be on a personal or corporate level, say it’s important to "get ahead of the story" or “bleed, don’t hemorrhage." And what that means is put somebody’s posterior in a chair, somebody who had decision-making power over the events that have already transpired, and fess up.
Deal with it. Look people in the eye and face down your problems. The road to the good stuff -- to recovery, redemption, normalcy -- doesn't usually begin until you admit to the rest. And that's true whether you’re somebody’s sports drink pitchman or not.
Sure, it’s Miller's right not to do any of that and there is a sliver of understanding in that as well. Many people who know him say he feels under siege, that he doesn't quite understand how all of this got away from him and that he feels like people are “piling on." He's scared, naïve, immature, confused -- these are all words folks are using to describe the immensely talented Miller.
Even the Broncos have been swept into it at times. There was, at first, a pervasive attitude the suspension would be reduced or even tossed aside, that anything to the contrary was “erroneous," despite the evidence available to refute that. Then there was more than a little hackles-up attitude about repeated stories about Miller’s numerous traffic violations, including when he was cited earlier this month for speeding while driving with a suspended license, with his father in the car, as Miller returned from a meeting with the NFLPA to plan his post-suspension life.
Something on the order of, hey, they're just traffic tickets.
But right from the start, it’s always been "it’s just" something when it comes to Miller.
They're just traffic tickets. Or it’s just marijuana. Or it’s just growing up.
Well, now the pile is what it is. And at some point, whether Miller wants to or not, whether those around him who consider themselves to be helping him want to or not, Miller is going to have to answer for it.
Because those rules are the same for everybody.