A year and a half after suffering an injury so severe it nearly resulted in the loss of his leg, Bears tight end Zach Miller is moving on from football. Miller, 34, is officially retiring from the NFL.
On Tuesday, Miller announced his retirement with a heartfelt Instagram post, in which he said that he’s stepping away from the game because he “physically cannot give the game and our fans what they deserve.”
“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 myself and my entire family and we can’t thank you enough for your continued support. 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. 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. I am forever grateful.
To the McCaskey Family and the entire Bears organization, THANK YOU for changing my life! To my Family, teammates and coaches, I value nothing more than the friendships and love I have gained from this game! I love you all!
And to everyone else chasing a dream… never stop, never settle!”
The Bears, who, thanked Miller on Twitter.
Miller, a sixth-round pick of the Jaguars back in 2009, was plagued by injuries for most of his career, which is why he played in only 66 games over the course of his career. He finished with 146 catches, 1,631 yards, and 15 touchdowns, most of which came in Chicago. With the Bears, Miller racked up 101 catches, 1,161 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
At one point, he was one of Jay Cutler’s most-trusted weapons, coming down with back in 2015. He also caught Cutler’s final touchdown pass as a member of the Bears in 2016.
Not only, but that It would end up being the final play of Miller’s career.
Despite not being able to return to the field, Miller’s story is an inspiring one. Just listen to him talk about his injury and recovery:
Miller departs the Bears and the NFL as a tight end who could never quite live up to this potential on the field — almost entirely due to circumstances outside of his control — but more importantly, as a universally respected player who managed to overcome a tragic injury to live a normal life.
“I’ll tell you what, there are some things in your normal life that you take for granted: walking, getting in and out of the shower, going to the bathroom. Everyday things that we as people do,” he said in October, per the Chicago Tribune. “It gives you perspective on all of that. I’ve been connected with a couple people that had similar injuries to me and it went the opposite way. It just makes you appreciate things. To see where I’m at now compared to where I was even six months ago, I’m just very thankful.”
Later, he said: “As much as I wanted to play football and do want to play football, the main thing was can I enjoy everyday life with my kids? Can I run around in the backyard, throw the football, kick a soccer ball? And be able to beat them until they at least get into high school — because that’s what I’m planning on doing. That was the main thing. And, yeah, they’re already falling in line. I’m already able to do that, which for me, that’s a win. So if I get to be able to do that for a very long time, I’ll be happy.”