On February 19, I was doing my normal email check when I came upon the email informing the sports world that All-World Steelers tight end was riding off into the sunset of lore of Pittsburgh Steelers legend.
Even though Miller had become a tad slower over the last couple of years, as a blocker he was almost like a Sherman Tank in pads and as a pass receiver there were times that he reminded me of Raiders NFL Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff without the entire La Brea Tar Pits slathered all over his hands, arms and legs.
ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler quoted Mike Tomlin regarding Miller. “It would be selfish of me to view it in any other way other than a great deal of admiration and appreciation for having the opportunity to work with Heath for nine of the 11 years he has done it,” Tomlin said.
Miller as usual was just as gracious in retirement as he was during his performing days on the gridiron.
“I will always cherish and value the special bonds that I formed with my teammates. It was truly an honor for me to take the field with them,” Miller said. “I am also appreciative of my entire family and all of the coaches who helped me along the way. Additionally, I want to thank Steelers Nation, the best fans in the NFL!”
When Heath Miller entered the end zone with the football, there were no Irish Jigs, break dancing, ballet pirouetting or booty shaking being performed by him to commemorate scoring a touchdown. Other than spiking the pigskin, if an official was nearby, he would just hand him the football and make an un-ceremonial exit to the sidelines.
As far as my personal experience with Heath Miller is concerned, in victory or defeat he would usually stand tall by his locker room stall, enduring and accommodating the most asinine questions from some of the media that oftentimes seemed as if they might have taken a short nap during the game.
Over the past few days I have talked with a slew of Steelers fans the majority of whom expressed sadness, disappointment and in a few cases expressed anger. I am not second guessing anyone, not Steelers GM Kevin Colbert or Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, but I will always wonder if they should have kept Miller on the sidelines for just one more year, even at a reduced salary if for nothing more than to be a leader and mentor to Steelers 5th round pick tight end Jesse James, who appears to be headed for stardom as well.
Heath Miller may have slowed a bit physically but as far as his deciphering the game and reading defenses is concerned, Miller surely remains as sharp as a tack.
Heath Miller did not run his mouth but he would run over an unsuspecting defensive back or linebacker if they blinked just for a moment. We should all celebrate Heath Miller for his actions because he ultimately made the journey to excellence easier for everyone around him.
(The source for this story was espn.com)
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741
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