Ben Roethlisberger cried when he got the news. Heath Miller was retiring from the NFL, ending a tremendously successful 11-year run for the quarterback and tight end. Roethlisberger doesn't always get this emotional when parting ways professionally, but Miller wasn't just any teammate.
Roethlisberger said Miller was the best teammate he ever had.
"He told me it was official, that he was retiring," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He thanked me for being his teammate and said how lucky he was to play with just one quarterback for all of his 11 years in the NFL. I told him he had it all wrong. I told I was the lucky one ...
"It's hard for me to talk about him. It really is. Where do you start? I could talk about him all day. But I don't know where to start."
Roethlisberger calls Miller the most unselfish player he's ever shared a field with.
"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."
How much did Roethlisberger value Miller? The quarterback cast his team MVP vote with the tight end every season.
"Whenever I wanted to get something done, I went to him," Roethlisberger said. "That way, I could go to coach (Mike) Tomlin and say, 'Heath and I think this ...' That meant more than if I just went to coach. Heath could get things done because everyone respected him so much."
Miller couldn't move like he used to by the end of his career and his blocking skills were in decline, but Roethlisberger's words serve as a reminder that a player's value shouldn't be judged by his fantasy output alone.