Zach Miller, the Nebraska native and former UNO Maverick, announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday about 18 months after he nearly lost his leg in a horrific playing injury.
Playing for the Chicago Bears in October 2017, Miller dislocated his knee and tore an artery trying to catch a touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints. Miller had to have emergency surgery to save his leg and underwent nine operations before he could try to walk again.
Miller re-signed with the Bears last summer on a one-year contract and was then placed on injured reserve. That allowed him to continue rehabbing with the team and contribute off the field. For that he was the Bears’ recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, which is voted on by teammates and given to a player who symbolizes professionalism, great strength and dedication.
He still held out hope for a return to the field, but this week he came to the conclusion his NFL career is over.
“I would love more than anything to step on Soldier Field one last time but I physically cannot give the game and our fans what they deserve,” Miller wrote in a post on Instagram. “It’s difficult to find words to express my love and gratitude to every single person that has cheered my name, picked me up and stood strong with me throughout my time in this league.”
Miller played in high school at Wahoo Neumann before spending a year at Nebraska. He then transferred to UNO, where he played quarterback from 2005-09.
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Miller in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft. He spent three seasons as a Jaguars tight end, catching 45 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns.
Injuries kept him off the field until 2015, but he enjoyed a resurgence in Chicago. He had 101 catches for 1,161 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Bears from 2015-17.
• To the city of Chicago, my beloved bears fans and NFL fans everywhere… The time has come to move on from playing the game of football. It has been an incredible journey for… https://t.co/8qS2ggkC8L
— Zach Miller (@ZMiller86) April 16, 2019