Von Miller is about as Denver Broncos as it gets.
Well, he was until Monday at least. Besides John Elway, who is singular in Broncos lore, few players in franchise history stand on the same pedestal as the seven-time All-Pro pass rusher. Even Peyton Manning shared the marquee with Miller, who was the best player on Denver's 2015 Super Bowl championship team.
So his Monday trade to the Los Angeles Rams — as practical as it was is for all involved parties — arrived as a gut punch in Denver. It even got general manager George Paton in trouble at home.
“I have a son," Paton told reporters on Tuesday. "He didn’t appreciate that we traded Von Miller. He’s still not talking to me.”
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That pretty much sums up the feelings in Denver around the trade that not only jettisoned a franchise player but signaled a white flag on the 2021 season — even if Paton puts on his best face that it didn't.
“As we build this team for sustained success, our mindset does not change: Our goal is to win," Paton said on Monday, per the Denver Post. "I’m confident in the players and our leadership, and we’re excited for the second half of the season.”
Painful, but practical trade for Broncos
In the end, the reality of the 2021 campaign overrode the mirage of a 4-4 record that has Denver in the same position as the defending conference champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. But any hope invested in Denver's position is fool's gold, as was a 3-0 start against the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets.
This is not a roster built to emerge as a playoff team from a second-half schedule with two games each against the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, one against the Las Vegas Raiders and a Sunday tilt against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Broncos recognize that. And they capitalized on a chance to return some draft capital for a player slated for free agency next offseason. And, as Paton put it on Monday, it was a chance to do right by Miller by sending him to a contender.
“Von and I had a positive, honest conversation (Monday) morning about our team as well as his own future,” Paton said, per the Post. “As I told Von, we wanted to do right not only for the Broncos, but also for him personally with everything he has meant to this organization."
Monday's trade hurt Broncos country. Just ask Paton's son. But it made sense. And it doesn't mean the Miller won't forever be a Broncos icon. But as along as he's wearing a Rams uniform or any other that's not Broncos orange and blue, seeing Miller on Sundays will be a painful sight for Broncos fans.