Miller ends a stellar career for the Steelers that included two pro bowls and two super bowl championships. Number 83 logged 592 receptions, 6,569 receiving yards, and 45 touchdown receptions.
The Virginia Tech product started for the Steelers as a rookie in 2005 after he impressed with a versatile skill set in college. Miller was an adept blocker, route-runner, and pass catcher throughout his college and pro career. A player with outstanding situational awareness and disciplined route-running, Miller was often a target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in big moments.
While never a game changing playmaker like the hybrid tight ends coveted in the modern offensive era, Miller was a throwback tight end with no weaknesses in his game. He was the perfect player to pair with Roethlisberger for over a decade. Miller was hard to bring down for a single defender and had a nose for the first down marker.
As great as Miller’s play on the field was, he was and continues to be an example off of it. His philanthropy work with several charities in his community is a testament to his character as much as his dedication to the physical demands of football.
Miller’s departure leaves a void at the tight end position–a position that has been taken for granted throughout Miller’s career. Matt Spaeth has been a long-time back up for Miller over two different stints in Pittsburgh and will help second-year player Jesse James step into an expanded role after a promising rookie campaign.
James has the size and athleticism to succeed in the Steelers’ offense as a pass catcher, while Spaeth is a proven blocker that fills his role well. Whether James can shape into a decade-long starter at the position remains to be seen.
Luckily for the Steelers, they have very few weaknesses on offense. The prowess of their dynamic receiving corps will be able to alleviate any growing pains the offense experiences due to Miller’s departure.
Heath Miller will go down as an all-time great and fan favorite for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Few recent players have been more emblematic of the Steelers’ physical and blue collared identity than Heath Miller.
He will be missed. As will the rallying cry that rattled NFL stadiums–home and away alike–when Heath made a big play. Next time he is at Heinz Field I’m sure he’ll hear it, even if he isn’t suited up for a game.