Von Miller Fights Injury, Weighs Future As He Chases Unique Super Bowl Goal

Buffalo Bills pass rusher Von Miller has a historic goal and a bad knee.

Now, he must wait four weeks to find out if that knee is healthy enough to chase the goal. The Bills put Miller on injured reserve on Thursday afternoon, hours before their game against the New England Patriots.


Miller has a complicated right knee injury where the lateral meniscus (or cartilage, as most people know it) has become “dislocated” and moved to the wrong spot in his knee. The injury is commonly known as a “bucket handle” tear because of the way the meniscus flips from one side to the other like a bucket handle.

That sounds worse than it is, but it does require surgery to fix.

One way or another, Miller is going to have surgery on the knee. In fact, by trying to play, he’s probably going to need two surgeries. One minor one now to stabilize the knee and, one way or another, a second surgery to relocated or repair the dislocation.

Von Miller Wants Third Super Bowl Win With Third Team

In the meantime, Von Miller has his goal. He signed with Buffalo this offseason specifically in hopes of becoming the first person in NFL history to win three Super Bowls with three different teams. While that could be a cool answer to a trivia question one day, it’s also proof that Miller’s goal is to win and not just chase money.

The issue, however, is that Miller runs the risk of either not being that effective when he tries to return, possibly making the injury worse, or perhaps both. It is not necessarily the approach most people would take. Then again, this is the NFL, which is a level most people don’t reach.

"What he is trying to do is not standard,” said OutKick’s Dr. David Chao, who wrote earlier this week that Miller had basically no chance to return as quickly as he thought.

“I'm not saying what he’s trying to do is bad. Heck, I let Philip Rivers play with a torn ACL. That's not standard, either. This is just not that normal .... Most of the time, you’d tell the athlete to go have the surgery and we’ll see you in three months.”

By playing, Von Miller risks tearing his meniscus more than it has already been torn. That could mean that it tears to the point that it can’t be sewn back together. Furthermore, playing with a knee brace sounds like a plan, but it might restrict Miller to the point that he’s just not effective.

That’s especially the case since Miller will have to play exclusively on the left side to protect the right knee. Also, Miller might not have the flexibility in his knee to get under and around blockers the way he has during his career.

Miller, Bills Will Play Waiting Game For Now

Which means there is a lot up in the air. By putting Miller on the IR, the Bills simply put off the decision. While they have three important division games coming up, they are also focused on the bigger goal of finally winning a Super Bowl. Miller was signed to a six-year, $120 million contract this offseason for a reason.

If he can get healthy enough to play in one of the final two games and be ready for the playoffs, the Bills will play the wait-and-see game. For now, however, they can wait.

While some people may fixate on the fact that Von Miller said Tuesday that he would only miss the game Thursday night against New England and hopefully be ready to play next week, that was never going to happen. According to two sources, Bills management decided Tuesday to put Miller on injured reserve so that he would miss at least four games.

The Bills just didn’t want to get in a public spat with Miller about the issue. They also don’t want to dash the hopes of any player who loves the game as much as Miller. This was about the art of managing personalities.

Written by
Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992. He is one of 49 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has served as a selector since 2013. Cole has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and started his career with the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. Cole’s five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.