It’s hard to believe that Zach Miller, former high school star quarterback from Nebraska, is a year removed from a horrific on field accident, that nearly cost him his leg, let alone his football career.
Based on his cheery disposition and his incredible positive attitude, it’s to believe Miller has endured multiple operations. At the same time the Chicago Bears franchise signed him to a contract, knowing he was unable to play, yet allowing him to rehab at Halas Hall, and feel like a part of the team. The experience of five years in the NFL, including 146 catches, over 1600 yards receiving, and fifteen touchdowns could prove valuable to a team that includes a few younger pass catchers on the squad.
Miller could have lost hope and given up any chance of playing, let alone walking. Instead, he has an incredible drive to recover. “That’s the way I was brought up,” he says. “My father told me from a very young age his motto is we’re only here for fun. I’ve carried that with me for a long time. Then it’s a conscious effort of choosing to be that way. It doesn’t do me any good to dwell on bad things.”
I feel good where I am physically. It changed me. I’ve always felt I’ve had perseverance, but this is on another level. Patience for sure. Sitting there for six months and your foot won’t move and you’re trying to move it. I guess the will to keep on fighting. Instead of the negative stuff. – Zach Miller
Bears coach Matt Nagy chimed in. “I remember the injury. It’s crazy to think that we’re here together. He’s somebody that we feel very fortunate to have as part of this family, this organization. He’s a happy go lucky guy. Good person. I knew what he was as a player, as a tight end, and the things that he could do. He just does things the right way. He’s a humble down-to-earth, happy person, and loves life. He’s a great teammate. We feed off of him. You want him to be a part of who you are and what you do.”
Miller adds, “the competitor in me drives me to accept the challenge. As a competitor, you work towards it. You do anything to accept the challenge, and conquer the challenge. That’s how I get through it. How I approach every single day. Get through the monotony of things like foot exercises. It’s challenging.”
He’s gained new perspective on the game of football as well. “As I sit there on the sidelines, you don’t pay attention to how violent the game is.”
On his role on the team, Miller states, “any day you can be a part of something like this, it’s a good day for me. They’ve done a great job of keeping me involved. In turn, I still get to do what I love.” Miller appreciates the chance to give his input around Halas Hall.
Is that the end of his football career? Not if Miller has his way.
“That’s what I’d like to,” he states emphatically. “I haven’t been told no, and I haven’t been told yes. I know there will be a point where I’ll be able to decide that. I’m not there yet, so I continue to do what I’m doing.”
Miller is committed to spend time with his family “The number one goal is to enjoy everyday life. I run around in the back yard and throw the football with my kids. I’m already able to do that. It’s a win for me. We play a lot of music around the house. My support system at home is unbelievable.”
That’s another reason why he’s so positive. “Days that were no good, they tried to pick me up. They’ve made sacrifices you cannot believe. They back me up.” Indeed, people from all over the world have offered Miller encouragement all along.
Hear an excerpt from his press conference on October 29, 2018.
Looking back at the video below, the whole event is surreal. After the second look, you can see that Miller’s leg plants on the end zone turf, and his knee buckles under as he comes down. The defender doesn’t even land on him.
His attitude is hopeful, encouraging, and amazing. Here’s to hoping he succeeds somehow.