Former Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak shocked the football world by announcing his resignation from the team after just two seasons. It was a stunning development for those not in tune with the happenings behind the scenes in Denver. Though, as we’ve learned since, Kubiak’s health issues made it a no-brainer for the Super Bowl-winning head coach.
His exit from Denver wasn’t met with the normal drama we see surrounding firings and resignations. There was no internal turmoil between Kubiak, his players or the organization as a whole. He simply felt that it was a necessary decision to make.
It’s in this that tributes have come flowing in Kubiak’s way, none more passionate and apt than the one reigning Super Bowl MVP Von Miller penned on MMQB Tuesday.
“The hardest thing to do in football is lose,” Miller said in the opening of his essay. “Any coach can stand up in front of a team after a win, crack a joke and say, “See you on Monday.” But it takes a real coach with a great understanding of what makes a team click to bring people together after a loss. That’s what Gary Kubiak did, and that’s who he was.”
To be clear here, Miller enjoyed a ton of success under Kubiak in the two short years they spent together in Denver. He absolutely dominated the landscape of last year’s playoffs, putting up five sacks in the final two games. This included an MVP-winning 2.5-sack performance in Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers.
This led to Miller receiving a monstrous six-year, $114.5 million contract last summer. It was the big payday Miller had been waiting for. And in reality, Kubiak’s coaching staff played a major role in this.
“He was a leader who was believable, a man of high character who always had a plan,” Miller continued. “He used to assign me what I call side missions—after team meetings he’d pull me aside and tell me what he needed from me that day, whether it was raising the intensity level at practice or heightening the focus on the details. I was excited and proud to be called on.”
It’s the ultimate respect a coach can receive. Seeing his former player spend the time and energy after a disappointing season to pen such a nice essay of admiration.
Denver missed out on the playofffs in 2016, a shocking development considering just how dominant the Miller-led defense was. After all, here’s a unit that finished first against the pass and fourth in total defense while yielding the fourth-fewest points in the NFL.
For his part, Miller proved that the contract Denver gave him was not a mistake. He ended the season having recorded 13.5 sacks, the fifth time in six NFL seasons that Miller has tallied double-digit sacks.
Miller finished up the essay by indicating he understood why Kubiak couldn’t return to the team in 2017 and by wishing him the best in his personal life moving forward.
It’s touching to see someone of Miller’s ilk pay respect to his former head coach. It also goes to show us just how much Kubiak meant to the organization he stepped away from on Monday.