How Long Can The NFL Keep The Volume Down About Von Miller’s Arrest?
5:38 PM EST on December 19, 2023
Von Miller is an All-Pro linebacker, a Super Bowl winner, and the current NFL leader in career sacks among active players. He's a Texas A&M legend, a stylish figure known for his sharp glasses and love of Stetson cowboy hats. He once sent every player in the AFC West a custom bottle of wine, with an image of his signature eyeglasses printed on the label.
He also is out on bail after turning himself in on an arrest warrant connected to a felony charge of assault of a pregnant person, as The Dallas Morning News reported. He turned himself in on Nov. 30.
Since then, updates have been few and far between. Dallas prosecutors haven't said much. Neither has the NFL. Buffalo Bills leadership did say a bit, mostly to explain why Miller would be available to play if the team needed him. CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz gave viewers a summary of the arrest and what followed on last week's broadcast, but the arrest hasn't garnered much media attention since. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Miller isn't playing a lot, and it's always easier to ignore an issue when the person involved isn't visible to millions of people on live TV.
But the Bills remain in the playoff hunt, and as talented as any team in the league. It's one thing for Bills and NFL leadership not to want to talk much about the arrest warrant filed against a star linebacker on a six-year, $120 million contract. But the ongoing investigation that includes Miller will be a lot harder to ignore after slightly more than half the league is eliminated. In every way, it isn't going anywhere.
Here is what happened, according to the arrest affidavit as well as reporting by WFAA in Dallas.
Dallas police officers wrote in the affidavit that the woman, who has children with Miller, got into a verbal fight with the linebacker in their apartment's main bedroom because she did not want to travel on her birthday. She went into the office and slammed the door. The slamming door, police wrote, made Miller angry, and he went into the office and began yelling at her to "get out." The woman did try to leave but, as she gathered her things, Miller began shoving and pushing her. Police wrote that Miller also took out his cell phone to try and record what was happening, while he continued to shove and push her. As this continued, per the affidavit, the woman told Miller, "Stop, I'm pregnant."
Amid the pushing, Miller stepped on her feet, causing her to fall backward into a chair. Miller then, per the affidavit, with one hand began "applying pressure around the Complainant's neck for 3 to 5 seconds before letting go." The affidavit reported that the woman felt pain but did not have trouble breathing. When she tried to gather her things, Miller "grabbed her phone and threw her laptop on the floor and stomped on it," according to the document.
When she tried to get her laptop from the floor, Miller grabbed her hair, pulling out a chunk and causing her to fall. She got up and again tried to leave, grabbing her things and also hitting record on her cell phone. For a second time, Miller grabbed her, pushed her onto a couch, and "placed pressure around her neck with both hands, again causing pain but no difficulty breathing." This time, when she got up, the woman told Miller that she was going to call the police. This got him to leave.
The woman did call police. WFAA in Dallas got a copy of the 911 audio, and in it a woman's voice can be heard telling a dispatcher that "my boyfriend was choking me, hitting me." In the audio played by WFAA, the woman doesn't sound afraid, but she does sound upset.
When police arrived, they wrote in the affidavit that they took photos and gathered evidence. Paramedics checked the woman, and police wrote that she was six weeks pregnant. The woman shared the video she recorded; police wrote they could hear Miller yelling at her to "get out." One detective said that they saw scrapes on the woman's left hand along with bruising on her neck, "injuries consistent with applied pressure to the neck." Near the end, the document noted that the case was being "forwarded for prosecution."
Since then, WFAA reported that they were able to contact the woman. Via text message, she told them: "We’re fine. Things were blown way out of context. This is actually outrageous!" She also told WFAA that what happened was "a verbal disagreement" and a "huge misunderstanding."
"No one assaulted anyone," she texted WFAA. "This is insane. And sad."
In 2021, when Miller played with the Denver Broncos, Parker, Colorado, police investigated him. For what they never publicly said. At the time, Denver7 reported that a source had said the case was about possible domestic abuse. Miller's girlfriend said on social media that there was no "physical abuse or violence" with Miller, that posts she made had been "misconstrued," and she regretted "making a private situation public."
When the investigation closed, no public paper trail was left behind. There was never a citation, an arrest, or a filing. Colorado law does not provide extensive public access to law enforcement records.
In November, Miller turned himself in to police and immediately posted bail. Miller's girlfriend told WFAA that she did not want them contacting her anymore. On Dec. 1, the station ran a story speaking with Tiffany McDaniel, CEO of The Family Place, which provides shelter and services to people in North Texas who experience domestic violence. They asked her about why people stay, even after a person is violent toward them.
"People return because sometimes that's the only way they can provide for themselves and their families," McDaniel told WFAA. "So, particularly when you add on the added pressure of being a national figure, a sports figure, a lot of times there is a power imbalance in those relationships that's not only physical but financial as well."
"And I think lastly," McDaniel continued, "what people forget sometimes, because domestic violence is so ugly, is that the victim could really still love the abuser, right? And so sometimes that is also a consideration in why people back out."
All this happened around the time of a Buffalo bye week. When the Bills returned to the grind, getting ready for a Week 10 game against Kansas City, reporters asked about Miller. They were told he would practice and play as normal. General manager Brandon Beane said, via the Associated Press: "No one wants their name associated with any accusation like that, so that’s a natural disappointment. I’m sure he’s disappointed. But things happen sometimes, and again, we have to remember people, we have to give them their fair due process. That can happen to anyone in this room. And I would hope we would all wait and let that play out before we rush to judgement." Bills head coach Sean McDermott didn't add much, saying "It’s a very, very serious situation."
When Miller returned to practice, he declined to comment. Nothing much has been forthcoming since then from any of the various institutions involved. There have been no updates from Dallas prosecutors nor from the NFL, beyond word via CBS NFL insider, Jonathan Jones that it was "unlikely" the league would put Miller on the commissioner's exempt list—a funky tool in which a player is both unavailable to play but also still paid. Kansas City wide receiver Justyn Ross, charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and property damage of less than $1,000, spent part of this season on the list. Ross was charged by prosecutors in court and Miller was not, which is the key difference that anonymous league sources have messaged in the days since. (The charges against Ross could be dropped, the Kansas City Star reported, after he completes a diversion program.) But the policy remit on the commissioner's exempt list gives Roger Goodell so much discretion that the league could, if it really wanted to, probably find a way to put Miller on the list. The Bills also could bench Miller. Neither has happened.
Miller hasn't played much since the arrest. He has already spent a chunk of the season on the injured reserve/physically unable to perform list, and his last tackle was back in Week 10, though he did have two QB hits in Week 13. Perhaps he will play next week and perhaps he will not. Whatever happens will probably be decided by two factors. First, is Miller playing well and, if so, can he help Buffalo with their playoff positioning? These are the same questions coaches and GMs ask about every player.
The silence around Miller's arrest isn't happening in a vacuum, and neither is it particular to the NFL. Over in the NBA, Josh Giddey is playing despite an ongoing police investigation into if he had a relationship with a minor. Miles Bridges couldn't travel with his team to Canada because he was denied entry into the country for what ESPN called "his past legal problems." Earlier this year, Bridges turned himself in on an arrest warrant for violation of a protective order, but since returning from his initial suspension—that one was for pleading no contest to injuring an intimate partner in California, which included three year's probation—he is averaging 19.6 points and a career-best 7.2 rebounds. The lesson is that players will play if they can help their team win, provided that the media and fans aren't too angry about it.
The arrest affidavit in full is below.