ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The latest distraction for the Denver Broncos comes from All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, who insisted Monday he did nothing wrong in the face of reports he could miss four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy.
“I know I did nothing wrong. I’m sure this’ll be resolved fairly,” Miller tweeted, acknowledging he had seen the reports and adding he was disappointed the Broncos have to open training camp with this news hanging over them.
ESPN first reported the pending discipline for Miller. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the possible penalty to The Associated Press. The person did not want to be named because the league hasn’t announced any punishment.
George Atallah, spokesman for the NFLPA, said the players union was working with Miller on his appeal, adding via Twitter: “I can also confirm that Von’s case does not involve the Steroids and Related Substances Policy.”
That would suggest Miller’s case centres around recreational drugs instead.
Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth said the team was unable to comment on the penalty, which could be overturned by an appeal. Miller and his agent didn’t return messages left by AP.
The Broncos report to training camp Wednesday with big expectations but a growing number of off-the-field distractions, as well.
Shortly after last season’s 13-3 campaign ended with a loss to Baltimore in the division playoffs, none other than Miller guaranteed a Super Bowl title for Denver for the 2013 season.
“I wasn’t being arrogant or cocky when I made the guarantee. It was something bigger than myself,” Miller said in May in explaining the comment. He said he dedicated the upcoming season to his 6-year-old cousin who was injured in an auto accident last winter.
Then, just last week, left tackle Ryan Clady signed a new contract and, during interviews to discuss the deal, said it was, “Super Bowl or bust, for the most part” for Denver.
It’s the kind of talk, at least in public, that Peyton Manning and coach John Fox disdain. It is, however, in line with what Las Vegas says (At odds ranging between 9-2 and 6-1, the Broncos are widely listed as the favourites to win the Super Bowl) as well as the roster Executive Vice-President John Elway has assembled.
He added Wes Welker to Manning’s group of receivers, shored up the line with free agent guard Louis Vasquez and used a second-round draft pick to add Wisconsin running back Montee Ball to the mix, as well.
But not all the off-season news has been positive for the Broncos. Elway’s top two assistants, Matt Russell and Tom Heckert, are each serving suspensions after arrests on drunken driving charges — an embarrassing run of news that deprives the Broncos of their top personnel men at a time when personnel decisions are paramount.
The other bit of bad news for Denver this off-season was its inability to keep pass-rushing defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil because of a mix-up with a fax machine that kept the team from receiving his signed contract in time.
The Broncos felt good about replacing Dumervil and his 11 sacks last season, but in large part, the comfort came because they had Miller, who has 30 sacks over his first two NFL seasons, lining up on the other side.
Without Miller, the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Broncos defence would be missing its best pass rusher for its first four games — against Baltimore, the New York Giants, Oakland and Philadelphia.
If suspended, Miller would be able to participate in all of the workouts at training camp but would have to leave the team after its final preseason game on Aug. 29.