Von Miller considered opting out after contracting COVID-19

Von Miller was one of the first big-name NFL players to discuss contracting COVID-19 publicly back in April. The virus caused him briefly to consider opting out this season.

Miller, who has asthma, spent time this offseason reflecting about what could happen, and whether he could catch COVID again, but ultimately decided that the possibility of reinfection was mitigated by the NFL's protocols.

Miller noted that the virus stripped him of his sense of smell and taste and robbed him of his appetite, leading to a 15-pound weight loss. He also added that it took a while to get his wind back while training to build back his strength and stamina.

His recovery from COVID-19 left Miller reflecting on his career, leadership role and the type of person and player he wants to be moving forward. 

"I tell guys that I love them more," Miller said, via the Associated Press. "I don't have a problem with saying, 'Hey, I love you. I appreciate you.' Because you never really know and during the times that are going on right now, I feel like it's mandatory for me to tell guys I love them."

Along with the virus, two other big factors led to Von's period of reflection. He read the late Kobe Bryant's book "The Mamba Mentality" and marveled about how fellow players respected how much he demanded of them. During Miller's recovery, he also watched Michael Jordan's "The Last Dance" documentary, which led to more self-reflection about his own leadership.

"Michael Jordan said that he would never demand anything out of his teammates that he wouldn't be doing himself," Miller said. "So, for me, it was like I've got to work harder, I've got to push harder, I've got to get back in shape, I've got to eat more, I've got to eat better."

The offseason of reflection has led Miller to conclude he needs to be a better leader. In the past, he noted, he's leaned on GM John Elway or former teammate DeMarcus Ware to be the leaders.

No longer.

But he's going to lead in his own way.

"I kind of shied away from that pressure," Miller said. "I was like I'm going to lead in my own way and ... I want to be a fun leader."

With a healthy Miller primed for a bounce-back season, the Broncos could be a dark horse candidate to disrupt the AFC playoffs.

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