I know you guys are tired of hearing about former Pittsburgh Steelers players, but I’m hoping you’ll let this one slide for Heath Miller’s sake. Miller, the team’s top tight end since he was drafted in the first round in 2005 until he retired following the 2015 season, is perhaps one of very few players who are and were universally liked.
After all, what kind of sick degenerate could not like HEEEEEEAAAATH? Anyway…
Miller played a very cool role recently during the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, acting as mentor there for the young players at the tight end position as they prepare to enter the draft and begin their careers as professional athletes. The mentorship program is a product of the NFL Legends Community.
“I thought it would be a unique opportunity for me to give back a little bit”, he said about the experience, courtesy of Teresa Varley via the Steelers’ website. “It was an opportunity to feed my football appetite. It was neat for me to be back around the game a little bit. It was special to see some old faces and spend some time around guys I hadn’t seen in a while”.
While Miller had clearly seen his best football days pass him by prior to his decision to retire after 11 seasons, it’s clear that the team still valued him and were not strongly encouraging him to hang up his cleats as they did with Troy Polamalu. Both of them still had a year left on their previous two-year contract extensions and the team was prepared to allow Miller to play it out, apparently.
His final numbers sagged dramatically, admittedly. He averaged just 8.9 yards per reception in 2015, the only time in his career that number was below 10. He caught 60 passes but for just 535 yards and two touchdowns. But he had 66 catches for 761 yards and three scores just the year prior.
Still, he felt that his body was telling him that it was time to retire, and so he made that decision, but he still chooses to allow the game to be a part of his life, and he jumped at the opportunity to be at the Combine for the young draft prospects this year.
“I was trying to be an open book for guys who had questions, not just about the Combine, but about anything that happens next after the Combine”, he said. “We talked about the next steps and I tried to help them to do the right thing, help them establish themselves to have long careers”.
It’s quite possible that Miller helped to mentor one of the team’s newest Steelers, because after losing Jesse James, there is a very good chance that the team will address the tight end position in the draft. Should that be the case, it will be interesting to hear from that player about what he learned from the former great.