Von Miller is one of the NFL’s most feared sack masters, but he’s relying on more than just personal experience to provide guidance at his annual pass rush summit.
Miller, the star linebacker of the Denver Broncos, looked toward the Mount Rushmore of NFL pass rushers in assembling his staff for this year’s clinic in Ridgedale, Mo.
Among those in attendance at Thursday’s summit were Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, the NFL’s career sacks leader, and Warren Sapp, a four-time All-Pro selection during a starry 13-year career.
“We want to teach the game and leave it in a better shape than it was when we got in it,” said Sapp, per the Broncos’ official team website. “And this is the way to do it: to pass along a little knowledge.”
Miller certainly is no slouch when it comes to getting after the quarterback. The MVP of Super Bowl 50 has 83.5 career sacks in seven seasons, including a career-best 18.5 in 2012.
Thursday’s summit lasted more than five hours, giving some of the league’s top young pass rushers a chance to work on different techniques while receiving pointers from Smith, Sapp and Miller. It also included a video session featuring film of each of the attendees.
“I think with great power comes great responsibility,” said Miller. “It’s bigger than just a rivalry. It’s a small brotherhood of pass rushers. It’s kind of like the Legion of Doom. You’ve got all of these villains. Outside of the Legion of Doom, they go at each other.
“But right now we’re going to share knowledge to get better and go against the Justice League.”
Smith was the quintessential blend of speed and power throughout his career after he was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech.
A 6-foot-4, 262-pound defensive end, Smith earned first-team All-Pro honors in eight of his 15 seasons in Buffalo and was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Smith played his final four seasons with the Washington Redskins, retiring after the 2003 season with 200 career sacks, including a personal-best 19 in 1990. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, Smith was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
“[The summit] shows the unselfishness of Von Miller and what he’s trying, not only to bring to the game, but to help these young men to be successful,” said Smith. “That’s what this is about: success. Success in life. He’s passing down skills, one player to another. And hopefully one day, they’ll do the same thing.”
Sapp had a lethal first step while playing at defensive tackle, earning seven straight Pro Bowl berths and four consecutive first-team All-Pro honors during his nine years with the Buccaneers. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class in 2013, Sapp spent his final four years with the Oakland Raiders, retiring after the 2007 season.
While Sapp also praised the idea behind Miller’s camp, the No. 12 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami (Fla.) admitted that he has a more selfish reason for wanting to help the up-and-coming pass rushers.
“I just want to see more Picassos and more Van Goghs because I’m sick of these quarterbacks on Sundays throwing the ball 40 times and walking out [looking] pristine,” said Sapp. “We’ve got to band together like brothers, like the quarterback club. … We’ve got to get us some sacks and some rushes on these quarterbacks.
“The only way to do it is Von Miller inviting the best that you can find to come out here and get some good work done.”