CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Those who have followed football in the state of Colorado for any length of time probably know the name Ryan Miller. He was an All-American lineman at Columbine High School during his senior year in 2006. Last year at this time he was playing in the NFL. Now he’s just a spectator — but not for long, if he has his way.
Heavily recruited out of high school, Miller decided to stay home and play for the University of Colorado where he started seven games his freshman year. That was the beginning of a standout career with the Buffaloes. Then, in 2012, Miller’s dreams came true when he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round.
“When I got that call from Mike Holmgren, it was surreal, very surreal; tears, happiness, shortness of breath … all symptoms you’d see on a prescription bottle or something,” Miller said. “It was great, it was fantastic.”
In his rookie year he would play in six games. Things were going well for Miller until July 27 of this year. He suffered a head injury in practice. He had been knocked unconscious during a drill, hitting head to head with a defensive lineman. He was unconscious for what he says was 30 seconds and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. It was a scary event for Miller, to say the least.
“To not be aware of your surroundings, to not know what’s going on, to really have a feeling of unaware, of emptiness, of uncertainty is terrifying,” Miller said.
He spent the night in the hospital and would miss most of training camp. Because of that the Browns decided to cut him.
“That’s the nature of the beast. If you can’t help them win games, you can’t help them win games,” he said.
Undeterred, Miller returned home and started working out at Six Zero Strength + Fitness in Centennial with former CU and NFL lineman Matt McChesney.
“This is a perfect little spot. It’s gritty, it’s nasty, it’s stinky, it’s bloody, it’s sweaty, it smells like puke — it’s fantastic,” Miller said.
The workouts have been as good for his mind as they have been for his body. Never before has he been without a team during a season.
“It’s difficult to watch games, it’s difficult to watch high school games. Anybody whoever played a game and had to say goodbye to it; that’s tough, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” Miller said.
Miller is determined to return to the NFL. He has been contacted by 10 different teams and has worked out for four of them. He says returning to pro football isn’t a question of if, but when.
“I know I will play again in the NFL. It’s just a question of when and where. There’s life after football, but that’s after football.”