July 22, 2013 Updated: July 23, 2013 at 7:54 am
DENVER - Boy, these Broncos sure like to party.
Here's an idea for the next slogan outside Sports Authority Field at Mile High:
Burning Man's got nothing on us.
Who needs Sin City when you've got Dove Valley?
If it's not a pair of front-office executives tipping back a few too many and then jumping behind the wheel, it's the star linebacker reportedly failing drug tests.
Von Miller is cool with Amendment 64, media reports suggest. Pending an appeal, Miller faces a four-game suspension for using marijuana and amphetamines, The Denver Post reported. That's a no-no with the NFL's drug policy.
"I know I did nothing wrong," Miller wrote on his Twitter account, @MillerLite40. "I'm sure this'll be resolved fairly. Disapp. Broncos have 2 open camp like this."
Here's hoping Miller is tweeting the truth.
Miller is more than the most dominant young pass-rusher to wear a Broncos uniform. Once Peyton Manning stops doing Peyton Manning things, Miller becomes the face of the franchise for as long as he's jeopardizing quarterbacks.
In June after a Broncos practice, linebacking great Randy Gradishar said Miller reminds him of Lawrence Taylor. As a player, he meant.
It's naive to think a notable percentage of NFL players don't burn one down from time to time. The bigger issue would be if Miller's problem is something more than a midnight toke.
But if there were 100 players on the Broncos' roster, I would name about 90 before citing Miller as a prime candidate to be careless enough to roll a joint when he knew a drug test could be right around the bend.
Miller has struck me as the rare star who wholly embraces the three P's of being one: Performance, public image and philanthropy.
His 30 sacks over two seasons is a franchise record.
His eager spirit and willingness to lead are qualities you build a roster around.
"Call me Vonnie Football," the proud Texas A&M Aggie said last season.
His foundation, Von's Vision, raises funds for glasses for kids with poor eyesight and not enough money to fix it.
I'm eager to learn the result of the appeal. Yes, I was surprised when these reports were linked to Miller.
Bummed out, even. Not because his mistake would be all that damning. More because his mistake would stain an image that, so far, has been exactly what you'd want in a star.
Truth is, we never really know these guys. We like to think we do, but we don't.
Maybe it's because we don't want to know. Sunday heroes are more fun that way.
It's why I cringe when media portray baseball All-Stars, Super Bowl champions or British Open winners as model humans or great family men.
Are we sitting at their dinner table for supper? Maybe those claims are true. But do we really know for sure?
Everybody has a skeleton. We can celebrate the athlete without deifying the person.
On the field, what would Miller's absence mean to the Broncos defense?
Count me in the minority, but not much. It would be four games, three at home, none in January.
Don't forget, the Broncos opened last season 2-3 and closed with the No.?1 seed in the AFC. The AFC, specifically the pesky Patriots, is weaker this year. The Broncos are stronger this year.
If the suspension were longer or stretched into the playoffs, it would be a significant loss.
The Broncos sacked, hit or hurried the quarterback 202 times last season, NFL analyst Sam Monson of Profootballfocus.com told me. Miller accounted for almost half (93) of those.
Get this: In terms of pressure generated per rush, Miller was the best pass rusher in the NFL. That's ahead of quarterback menaces Aldon Smith, Cameron Wake and J.J. Watt, even.
"And by some margin," Monson said.
This is an absence a Super Bowl favorite would be able to overcome.
Let's hope Miller is being honest and his reputation has nothing to overcome.
On the day after the Broncos lost to the Ravens in the playoffs, I asked one of the players what's first on his offseason to-do list.
"I think we've gotta take a drug test," he told me.
Here's a hypothetical to consider:
If the Broncos party like this after losing in the playoffs, imagine the party if they don't lose in the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.