When Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller announced on Friday that he was retiring, several fans immediately wondered if the organization forced him to do so much in the way they presumably did with safety Troy Polamalu last offseason. Over the course of the day, however, it became clear that Miller made the decision all on his own and as a matter of fact, he knew as early as last season that 2015 would probably be his finally year.
“No, we weren’t surprised, we certainly weren’t shocked,” said Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert in a Friday interview on Steelers Nation Radio with Bob Labriola. “We knew and we’ve had discussions that Heath was maybe thinking about this after the season. (We) really hadn’t gotten into much detail. We wanted to let him sift through his thoughts and we knew it was a possibility, so when he came and announced to us today that it was time to retire, then we certainly wished him all the best and thanked him for all of the great contributions he’s made not only on the field, but off the field.”
If that isn’t enough confirmation that Miller quietly walked away from the NFL after 11 season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday that he also knew since November that his friend and longtime teammate would probably end his career after the 2015 season ended.
“We had a pact,” Roethlisberger told Cook. “I wanted to enjoy my last ride with him. I made him promise me.”
Even though Roethlisberger wanted to run with the news so that Miller would get a proper sendoff from the fans, he reportedly promised his tight end that he wouldn’t let anyone know.
“I told him today in a joking way that he was selfish for not allowing the fans to know,” Roethlisberger said. “They should have known they were yelling ‘Heeee-ath!’ one final time. They should have known when it was going to be his final game at Heinz Field. They should have known when they were seeing him catch his final pass or his final touchdown pass.”
In the end, Miller left on his own terms and in a way, very quietly. Overall, none of us should be shocked by that as he’s always been a team-first kind of player who never wanted the light to shine on him both on and off the field. In today’s NFL, Miller is a rare breed of player and he’s consistently been the same person for his entire career.
While Miller will certainly be missed, he will never be forgotten.