Ain’t No Sunshine: Heath Miller retires.
When Little Darlin’ broke the news to me, I was surprised. I’ve got to think we all were. There were no rumors, murmurs or foreshadowing. Nobody dared whisper “Heath’s losing it,” mostly because it wasn’t true. While approaching the autumn of his career, Heath had yet to show any real significant erosion of skill, nor did his body begin to betray him.
Perhaps we could have seen it coming, if only because this exit is so very Heath-like. Three of the most used adjectives appearing in articles featuring this fine young man are nice, classy and humble. His retirement announcement was nice, classy and humble. Like Heath, it was quiet and reserved.
There was no victory lap. No hanging on until the front office had to tell him it was time to go. No serious injury forcing the inevitable choice. Heath walked away while he could. He’s still young and healthy at 33; seemingly with no regrets.
The decision may not have been too easy. The Steelers appear poised to make a Super Bowl run, with our best shots coming this year or next. If Heath did not hear the siren call of another Lombardi trophy, he must have give it more than a fleeting thought. Yet, if he had any reservations about leaving with some gas in the tank, there was not a hint of it in his statement:
Today, I informed the Steelers of my plans to retire. I realize how extremely fortunate and grateful I am to have spent my entire career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. I would like to thank the Rooney Family, Kevin Colbert, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, James Daniel and the rest of the Steelers organization for giving me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream. I will always cherish and value the special bonds that I formed with my teammates. It was truly an honor for me to take the field with them. I am also appreciative of my entire family and all of the coaches who helped me along the way. Additionally, I want to thank Steelers Nation, the best fans in the NFL! Lastly, I owe the biggest thank you to my wife, Katie, and our four children for their unwavering support.
Perhaps Heath could have played another year or two. Maybe, there were more post season appearances for the best Steelers TE ever. Then again, bad things can happen to a 34 year old football player, but I’m not sure Heath even thinks that way. He’s special and he’s different. Whatever motivated his timing, we’ll never know. Heath is a private guy and he did it his way in his own time.
No. 83 played his entire career with Big Ben as his quarterback. The two were very close, coming to Pittsburgh a year apart. Roethlisberger was the Steelers number one pick in 2004, Miller was the first pick in 2005.
In a fine article by the Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook, we learn that Heath told Ben of his plans in November. Ben was sworn to secrecy; it’s what Heath wanted – no fanfare.
Ben considers Heath his best teammate ever:
“No doubt he was,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve had a lot of great teammates, a lot of guys I could put up there. But what Heath personified as a player and a teammate? There’s never been another like him. I’ve never known a more unselfish player.”
“I’d ask him if he was open on a play and he would say ‘no’. Other receivers say they are open on every play, but he never did. Then, I would look at the film and he’d be wide open. He always told me he didn’t want me to have to worry about him.”
Todd Haley said
[Miller is maybe] the best player I’ve ever coached. Just all around. There have been guys with more talent, but to be with him on a day-to-day basis and see his football intelligence …
Heath is always where he’s supposed to be. That’s so important to a quarterback. Ben trusted him. Even in protection things and the run game. If a call is wrong, Heath makes it right.
For me, the highest praise came from Coach Tomlin:
He is the type of person that I want my boys to be. He has inspired me in that way. When I look at him and think about his body of work personally and professionally, as a dad you think about boy how could I raise my sons to be like Heath Miller, to project the things and values he projects?
I’m happy for Heath Miller. He’s done it his own humble way. His presence, leadership and example will be missed.
Like Rebecca, I’m whining about trying to write interesting articles through the dark days of the offseason. What’s that? Oh, it’s Bill Withers again. This is not that last you’ll hear of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
In addition, I’m trotting out a new twist called “My Two Cents.” One thing I never run out of is opinions. Just ask Little Darlin’. And while “My Two Cents” may lack sense at times, it may give you something new to read, something to discuss, or just something that makes you think Rox is an idiot. After being a litigator for most of my career, I can assure you that any aspersions you make just might sound familiar. We’ll start a little slow, and see what happens:
My Two Cents
- The allegations of Peyton Manning’s sordid escapades at the University of Tennessee continue to be, in my opinion, under-reported. I’m less concerned about the initial assault than the concerted effort of the Manning family to crush and ruin the victim, Jamie Naughright. The Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier gives his take on the status of Manning’s legacy— “The Peyton Manning Legend Continues to Unravel.”
- I’m happy Tony Dungy was elected to the Hall of Fame and that he has selected former Steelers’ safety Donnie Shell to present him. Another Steeler in Canton. My gut tells me that Dungy’s football resume, while impressive, is borderline for the Hall. But as a human being, he’s gold. It’s nice that a guy who defied the hard part guy stereotype for NFL coaches is celebrated.
- If you’re looking for a good read, try Teresa Varley’s article on Joey Porter, his family and the challenges of raising their autistic daughter, Jasmine. She presents another facet of Joey, a man who becomes more admirable, the more I learn of him.