As reinstatement from his six-game NFL suspension drew near, Von Miller started counting down the hours.
One week and two days. Three days and two hours. One day and 11 hours.
"It hasn't gone by fast, though," he said during a sitdown interview with The Denver Post. "A lot of people have said it went by fast. It hasn't. It wasn't easy. And I don't want to get away from that. I want to stay with that focus that it's not easy."
Beginning Monday morning, Miller is a free man. The Broncos' star pass-rushing linebacker has been sprung from a six-game suspension by the NFL for violating its drug policy. There were plenty of restrictions. He couldn't practice. Couldn't play. Couldn't travel with the team. And he would not be paid.
If the Broncos missed him, they had a funny way of showing it. They went 6-0 without him.
He could attend meetings. He could watch and cheer on the Broncos, which he did from the same spot in his house.
Mostly, though, Miller spent time getting himself in top physical condition. As Miller walked into the interview wearing a long-sleeve, white athletic shirt, dark sweat pants and his trademark eyeglasses, the immediate impression was he had been hitting the weight room. He's up to 262 pounds — he started his rookie season at 246 pounds — but he has lost 2 percent of body fat, which now measures at a sculpted 10 percent.
"I still move like a wildcat," Miller said. "I'm still quick. I'm still going to cover guys. I'm in the best shape of my life. Emotionally I'm in a very good place. Nutrition, I've stepped it up. Usually during the season you get away from it because everything is moving so fast."
Through his agency, Athletes First, Miller agreed to speak publicly for the first time since before he learned Aug. 20 that the league had increased his suspension from four to six games.
The Denver Post's NFL reporters post analysis, notes and more on this blog focusing on the Broncos.
For clarity, Miller's troubles had nothing to do with performance-enhancing drugs. Because he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Miller has a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall.
"Since my freshman year in college," he said.
He tested positive for marijuana in 2011 as a rookie.
"I don't have a substance-abuse problem," he said. "I feel like I've definitely made some mistakes in the past. I can't shy away from that. But I'm working hard to fix it. I'm working hard to gain everybody's trust back. All I can ask is people judge me from my actions going forward. I'm working hard to gain trust back. I'm very confident I'll be able to do that."
The NFL increased Miller's original four-game suspension to six games because it thought he tried to cheat the system by working with a specimen collector who accepted a fraudulent sample.
Asked about that, Miller said: "I can't go back and defend something that was in the past. I've already served my suspension. I've already started to do everything to keep forward. ...
"I apologize for all the troubles or pain I've given Broncos fans or anybody who is close to me. Nobody feels worse about this than me. The good thing about it is I have an opportunity to fix all this stuff.
"To the kids and anybody who looks up to me, this could show them how you go from zero to 60 back down to zero."
Other topics Miller addressed:
During his suspension he worked for a week with renowned pass-rush specialist Chuck Smith, a former Atlanta Falcons defensive end.
"It wasn't a 9-to-5 thing. He stayed with me," Miller said. "We talked football every day. We woke up talking football, we went to sleep talking football."
Miller's troubles with speeding tickets and failing to appear in court may not have made the headlines to the extent they did if not for the suspension.
"Got mixed together," Miller said. "I understand I have to be on top of all this stuff. The constant battle with procrastination is what it all boils down to. If you get a speeding ticket, you have to stay on top of it.
"I will say this: I've always had a driver's license. With speeding — I've had a trouble with the pedal to the metal. I'm working to try to fix that too."
Much of Miller's troubles seemingly had to do with irresponsibility. He agreed.
"I feel like I have matured," he said. "Some guys have a lifetime to mature. I think I have matured in the six weeks, eight weeks, 10-week span faster than most guys. ... Still, every single day is a challenge. It's not just the big things like traffic citations. It's waking up with the alarm clock. It's the constant grind with procrastination."
Loss of money.
Not getting paid for six weeks cost him more than $806,000 in salary. "I'm not worried about any of that stuff," he said. "I'm just worried about playing football."
Now that his suspension has been served, a wiser, more disciplined and mature Von Miller is ready to rejoin the Broncos. He doesn't have to lose his personality.
"I'm not a quiet guy," he said. "But I had to be. It was part of the time I had to serve. But I'm in a happy place. I'm blessed to be in a situation that I can achieve everything that was set out there for me to do. I am still trying to be the best football player I can possibly be. And my teammates and my organization have been very, very supportive. My family, my friends. I'm in a great place. I'm happy I'm back to the game that I love.
"Having football taken away from you — it already meant a lot to me before, but it means so much more to me now."