As we enter Week 11 of the 2013 NFL season, the stakes are raised and the marquee match-ups have a more defining meaning. No game captures this sentiment more than the Sunday night showdown between the 8-1 Denver Broncos, who have in the league’s No. 1 ranked offense, against the league’s lone undefeated team, the Kansas City Chiefs, who just so happen to boast the No. 1 scoring defense.
On paper, this long-term rivalry has the ability to reach its pinnacle this season, as it will only be two more weeks before the rematch takes place at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Through the years these two franchises have engaged in some of the game’s most fierce battles and there will certainly be no love lost come Sunday night. However, in some instances, there is connection that exceeds beyond the enemy lines.
All-Pro linebacker Von Miller of the Denver Broncos is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, wreaking havoc on opponents with his superior pass rushing ability and high motor. If you were to look back in history to make a comparison of Miller to an all-time great, you could stop the search and point to another #58, Chiefs’ Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
It is actually no coincidence that Miller wears the same number as Thomas, as he explained in a 2012 interview with the Associated Press:
“I went and got his film, watched all his games, watched all his interviews,” Miller said. “I just felt connected, I felt like I'd known him. I felt like the kind of things he did were the same kind of things I could do. I just became the biggest Derrick Thomas fan there was.”
Aside from the six-game suspension that Miller had to serve to start the 2013 NFL season, the similarities are obvious. The approach of these two from the linebacker position is like that of a running back who envisions that it is the job of the offensive line to try and stop them. Both came into the league at 6-foot-3 and nearly 240 pounds. Through their first two seasons, both had 30 sacks. Now it will be up to Miller, who is in his third year, to determine which way his career will go. After sitting out nearly half of the season, he is beginning to find his groove again, with 13 tackles, 2 sacks, and forced a fumble in the three games since his return.
With Miller rounding into form, he has the ability to get the Derrick Thomas comparisons kicked into high gear again. This weekend's game serves as the perfect stage to honor what Miller has started, honoring a man who would give everything he had when it counted most. RIP to the legend of #58, DT, Derrick Thomas.