DENVER - Von Miller has officially been suspended for six games for violating the NFL's drug substance-abuse policy.
The Broncos linebacker will be missing the first six games of the regular season and will return to the field when the Broncos play the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 20 in Indianapolis.
The NFL said Tuesday that Miller has been suspended without pay starting Saturday, Aug. 31. He is eligible to participate in the final two weeks of preseason practices and games and will be eligible to return to the Broncos' active roster on Monday, Oct. 14 following the team's Oct. 13 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Miller released a statement shortly after the news was released on Tuesday, saying, "The Substances of Abuse policy requires everyone to comply with the rules. Although my suspension doesn’t result from a positive test, there is no excuse for my violations of the rules. I made mistakes and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans, and myself. I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others. I will not make the same mistakes about adhering to the policy in the future. During my time off the field, I will work tirelessly and focus exclusively on remaining in peak shape. I look forward to contributing immediately upon my return to the field and bringing a championship back to the people of Denver."
In 2011, Miller tested positive for marijuana and amphetamines, according to sources who talked to the Denver Post. As a result, Miller was placed in the league's intervention program. According to the league's drug policy, a player in the intervention program can be found in violation if he misses a test or repeatedly shows up late for testing or counseling, alters the sample or demonstrates behavioral issues.
The NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported, according to two sources, that a diluted urine sample caused the most recent violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Miller's suspension means the Broncos no longer will have use of their best defensive player for more than a third of the regular season.
Head Coach John Fox released a statement as well, saying, "Von has acknowledged making some mistakes in the past and is now being held accountable under the policies the league has in place. While it’s very disappointing that we will be without him for the start of the season, we will support him as a football team and organization. All of us will stand by Von and help him however possible as he continues his personal growth off the field. Replacing him on the field will not be easy, but every team must deal with adversity. We will plan accordingly and be prepared. I am confident our team will step up and meet the challenge. I expect Von to stay in excellent shape and be ready to play at a high level when he returns to the Broncos."
Yet, Miller will play in the team's last two preseason games before the suspension begins with the first game of the season, Fox said.
The coach said other players will have to filled the void left by Miller's absence.
"Everybody is going to have to step up," Fox said. "I know it is, ‘Next man up,’ but he’s a hard man to replace, [and] the guys around him have to play better. The guys on the other side of the ball have to play better and that’ll be the challenge to our team."
John Elway, the Broncos executive vice president of football operations, said he was disappointed with Miller, but stressed that he will support the star linebacker, while helping other players from making similar mistakes.
“Obviously we’re frustrated with what’s happened -- and I think disappointed in Von," Elway said. "…What I’d like to do is try to do everything we can to prevent any other situations."
"If we can get (Von) help to help him take that next step in the maturation process, we want to do that," Elway said. "We’ll take it one step at a time and the first step now is to make sure that we’re getting Von the help that he needs to get."
The third-year linebacker became the first player in Broncos history to earn a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first two NFL seasons. Miller was voted as runner-up for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, finishing his season ranked in the league's Top 5 in sacks (18.5), quarterback knockdowns (27), quarterback hurries (12), tackles for a loss (28), run stuffs (13) and forced fumbles (6). He tied for the third-most sacks (30) by an NFL player through his first two years (since 1982), including 18.5 sacks during the 2012 campaign to set a Broncos single-season record.
-- Von Miller talks to reporters --
On Tuesday, after practice but before he knew if he would be suspended, Miller spoke to reporters about his recent turmoil. Besides the suspension, the first-round draft pick was arrested Aug. 11 on a warrant for failure to appear in court for a traffic violation. He was also listed as a possible witness in a death penalty murder case against a suspect accused of stabbing five people to death in a Denver bar.
On the reports about his situation
"It’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on. That’s why I’ve just got to continue taking it one day at a time. Adverse situations make great guys out of people and I think I’m a great guy. I’ve just got to continue taking it one day at a time."
On what’s been the hardest thing for him
"Life is hard in general. I’m blessed to be in the situation I’m in. I’m blessed to be here with the Denver Broncos, blessed to have great teammates. I’m just taking it one day at a time."
On whether he’s been overwhelmed by what’s happened
"It just depends. I’m blessed to be here, to play with the Denver Broncos, blessed to have great fans and teammates. The witness thing, I didn’t have anything to do with it. Never, ever even seen the guy. Anything about that stuff, I can just go ahead and dismiss that right now. I was one of probably one of 100 people on that list. I had no knowledge about that. The ticket thing, that was me. I’ve just got to be more responsible. It was a ticket from back in November. I’m not making any excuses like I said before. I’ve just got to grow up, be more mature and take care of business."
On whether he reads the reports on his situation
"I don’t know where you guys get that stuff. Some of the stuff is false that guys are putting out, but I can’t really get into all that stuff. I’m just taking it one day at a time, just hoping to a speedy and fair conclusion."
On whether his relationship with the fans have been affected
"My true fans, true Broncos fans, they’ve been great. Coming out to practice, still believing in the guy that I am. The media, they can do some crazy stuff to you and paint a different picture. But the fans that know me for going out there, laying it all on the field, being a great teammate, entertaining the fans and just being the fun Von -- that’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been, that’s who I’ll continue to be."
On whether he’s as confident today as he was a month ago
"I can’t really generalize how I feel about the whole situation. A month is a long time, especially to have all of this on your back and everyone on you and stuff. I’m just hoping for a speedy and quick conclusion to get this behind me. I’m just trying to get back to playing football, whatever it may be, and just enjoy my teammates."
On the state of the defense
"It’s the National Football League. We’ve got pros at every position. I think we’ve got some depth to everything. Hopefully, we get the speedy guys back. I’m hopeful for my situation as well. Just continue to play football, just taking it one day at a time."
On whether he’s let his teammates down
"No, I didn’t. I’ve got great teammates, from [QB] Peyton [Manning] all the way to the free agents on the spot. Everybody's been supportive of everything and everybody’s believed in me. I've got great teammates."