Denver – Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller admitted to being frightened during his recent battle with COVID-19, saying that death "did cross my mind a little bit."
The 31-year-old former Super Bowl MVP was particularly at risk for the effects of the coronavirus as he has suffered from asthma since childhood.
Miller revealed he tested positive for the illness on April 16. Two weeks later, he announced a new test had come back negative.
In an interview with the Washington Post published on Wednesday, Miller opened up about his ordeal.
He said the most frightening thing was "not being able to breathe."
"I got asthma, but it was past the asthma attack — like my lungs were constricting," he said. "My asthma nebulizer helped, but it still didn't feel like it was supposed to. Just going to sleep knowing that my oxygen level could drop and I could wake up and have to go to the hospital.
"You can't really taste. You can't really smell. That in turn kind of messes with your appetite, so you're not really eating like you're supposed to. The first four, five days I was honestly nervous. I wouldn't say that I thought I was going to die or anything like that, but it did cross my mind a little bit."
Miller said the illness has had an impact on his offseason regimen.
"Taking 17 days off and then trying to get back into it, I really feel it," he said. "I still feel my lungs trying to get back in shape. It's just all the wear and tear that it puts on your lungs. I've got asthma on top of that, so to try to run with asthma and then try to run after the coronavirus, that's what I think some of the shortness of breath comes from."
The eight-time Pro Bowl player added that he is disheartened to see people downplaying the virus's threat. Such attitudes are prompting him to attempt to raise awareness about the illness in addition to the charity work he is doing to provide meals during the pandemic.
"They don't even think it's real," Miller said of friends and teammates. "That's the craziest part. I told them to take it serious. Take all of this serious. Take social distancing serious.
"I was going to Chipotle earlier, and I saw two people walk out in masks. They took off the masks before they had even got out the store; I was like, 'Hey!' They was all excited, but I was like: 'I had the coronavirus; I saw y'all take your masks off early. Y'all should wear y'all masks all the way to the car.' Their smiles kind of changed."
Regarding how the NFL should proceed in the face of the outbreak, Miller believes mass testing will be the key to getting players back on the field.
"Every day we need to test all the players," he said. "It's got to be part of the routine. If one person gets this and it goes undetected, then that's eight.
"Let's say (Broncos wide receiver) Courtland Sutton gets tackled and he has the virus. Now you got the other team; they have the virus. I want to make sure all the players and all the staff and everybody coaching and everybody in the front office gets tested every day.
"Also, if a stadium holds 65,000 people, they might cut it down to about 16,000 people and (spread people) out across the stadium. Everybody is going to have spaces to watch the game. Then you can get some of the real-life feel back, the real-life football back."
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