ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Broncos linebacker Von Miller received a six-game suspension under the NFL’s substance-abuse policy Tuesday, taking away the best defensive player from a team many expect to make a run at the Super Bowl.
The league wanted a longer penalty for the third-year linebacker, but the sides agreed to less than half the season, a person familiar with the negotiations between the linebacker and the NFL told The Associated Press.
The person who spoke to the AP did not want to be identified because details about the negotiations were not public.
Broncos executive vice president John Elway said the team was frustrated with what happened “and, I think, disappointed in Von.”
“We’ll live with that decision,” Elway said. “What I’d like to do is try to do everything we can to prevent any other situations.”
According to the NFL, Miller is eligible to play and practice through the last two preseason games. His suspension, without pay, will begin Aug. 31, and will cost him more than $800,000 of the nearly $2.3 million he’s scheduled to make this season.
He’ll be allowed at the team facility, but not at practice during the suspension. He can return to the field Oct. 14, the day after Denver’s home game against Jacksonville, and will be eligible for an Oct. 20 contest at the Indianapolis Colts.
After being notified of the decision, Miller released a statement saying, “although my suspension doesn’t result from a positive test, there is no excuse for my violations of the rules.”
“I made mistakes and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans, and myself,” he said. “I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others. I will not make the same mistakes about adhering to the policy in the future. “
The NFL has two drug policies — one that covers use of performance-enhancing substances and the “Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse” that applied to Miller’s case.
There are ways to violate the drug policy without necessarily testing positive. They include missing a test, refusing to test, tampering with tests or giving a diluted urine sample.
The Broncos had been operating throughout the preseason as if Miller would be with them for their regular-season opener Sept. 5.