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What Von Miller downplaying Sunday’s dinner says about his leadership

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 21, 2019

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There were two notable events surrounding the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

The first was becoming the only team in five years to lose a game in which they had a 20 point lead at halftime. The second happened at Del Frisco’s at 8:30 PM.

One has the opportunity to be a defining moment in the Vic Fangio era, specifically for the defense. And no, it’s not the humiliating loss.

Over filets and porterhouses at an impromptu steak dinner, players, specifically on defense, mulled over the future. With four key defensive starters all of expiring contracts, the late-night meal brought out the intriguing question of what heights this defense could reach if they all stuck around and gave it another go.

“Imagine if we could get another year together with the defense,” Derek Wolfe said wishfully, giving details about the dinner to KOA.

“You can see the spurts of kind of the foundation that’s being built,” Justin Simmons said with hope. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on it, because that just means there are limitations. But I think it’d be a really good defense to be apart of.”

If—which is a big if—the defense stays relatively intact moving forward and they continue to build on the tremendous success they’ve had since Week 5—outside of a tremendously poor second half against the Vikings—for years to come, Sunday night’s steak dinner will be a significant chapter in the story.

And it would all be thanks to Von Miller.

Von, the man many outside the building believe should be the leader of this team, invited every single player to Del Frisco’s once the team plane touched down in Denver on Sunday evening. Most accepted the invite and it was an eclectic gathering that resembled more of a family affair than a team dinner.

But on Thursday, Miller himself downplayed the event.

“It was just dinner. I don’t really want to make it bigger than what it was. It was just dinner with the guys,” He said. “I know a couple of guys talked about it and stuff and what it meant to the team, but for me, it was just dinner.”

To Von, it may have been just a dinner. But it truly was much larger than a delicious meat-filled meal to all 60-plus teammates he invited.

“I had never seen nothing like it,” Will Parks, said about the dinner that was organized by Miller. “I think it was one of the best things I’ve seen in all of my football life. So it’s pretty cool.”

“It was something that the Denver Broncos, since I’ve been here, haven’t done. I think that speaks dividends to No. 58.”

Von’s very own words show exactly why this was more than just a dinner.

“The reality is, we 3-7 and it’s tough for us right now. Just trying to keep the mood and the energy what it was in the following weeks,” Miller said. “I really don’t want to make it bigger than—you know me, it was just dinner. I just wanted to take the guys out, have dinner and spend time. That’s all it was for me. If we can get any positives out of that, then I’m all for it.”

The fact that a dinner is one of the biggest stories of the week shows precisely how his teammates viewed it and how positive it was.

Von’s always been the star and center of attention, even well before he joined the Broncos as the No. 2 overall pick in 2011. And he certainly is still the star now in Colorado, with the Broncos and even inside the locker room with his teammates. He’s the man the cameras follow around.

But his leadership role has taken a remarkably different tone. It’s quiet.

His under-the-radar leadership style is tremendously different from other team’s bonafide leaders, typically at the quarterback position.

But Sunday’s dinner is the perfect example of just the type of leader he is.

The Miller house is the place to go to hang out with teammates, there’s no secret about it. When Devontae Harris—a player picked up off waivers—was signed to the team in early September, Von was one of the first players to introduce himself.

In fact, in one of his first nights in Denver, Miller invited Harris over to his house for dinner. That smaller meal wasn’t broadcast on the nightly news or discussed ad nauseam over the airwaves. It took place quietly.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t address the team in an official role. In fact, he did just that as the château mashed potatoes and creamed spinach were passed around the table.

“He got up and was like ‘Ay guys, the energy we had in practice that week, the energy the we had in the game, let’s keep it going,’” Parks said, detailing Miller’s message to the team at the dinner. “That was the funnest game we’ve ever played… I think the camaraderie and the charisma and the things we have, we just got to stick to it.”

As Miller continued to try to downplay the Sunday night dinner, he admitted he was surprised with all of the hype it got from his teammates.

“We’re 3-7. What else are we going to talk about? What else are we going to talk about,” he said with an uncomfortable chuckle. “I feel like it was good for the guys and good for the team. I really don’t want to make it bigger than what it is.”

The dinner being “good for the guys and good for the team” is exactly why it was a big deal, Von. Instead of players pouting and going their own ways in Week 12, at least for another week, the team is sticking together, much like the potatoes au gratin they inhaled at Del Frisco’s.

Throughout the week, the energy hasn’t felt like that of a 3-7 team. Players have been upbeat and the locker room hasn’t felt like a world of suck, despite having the record that would indicate just that.

“Honestly, just simply the energy that we have and the type of players that we have and the type of coaches that we have,” Miller said, explaining what gives him hope about this 3-7 team. “It’s just a matter of time before we become a great team again. Great coaches and great players usually equal success. I’m still waiting for that and hoping for that and I know that’ll happen for us.”

After passing on opportunities to trade the future Hall of Famer throughout the down years, it appears John Elway’s going to give Von Miller every opportunity to be on this team whenever they bounce back. Von Miller’s leadership will play a big role in the equation. And it’s been on display, even if Von doesn’t want to admit it.

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