Photo by Associated Press.
Originally Published: September 5, 2016 10:34 p.m.
DENVER — Von Miller's two sack-strips of Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50 were just the start of his torment of Carolina's quarterback.
Denver's star linebacker made the NFL MVP the butt of his jokes on "SNL" and trolled him on Instagram, saying it was all in good fun.
On "Saturday Night Live" six days after he was voted MVP of the Super Bowl, Miller discussed the discovery of gravitational waves first postulated by Albert Einstein a century earlier by declaring:
"These waves are everywhere in the universe — just like I'm everywhere when Cam Newton closes his eyes."
When Newton posted a picture of himself playing water polo with the U.S. national team in April, Miller photo-shopped himself in knocking yet another ball out of the QB's right hand.
Although they're more associates than amigos, Miller said his teasing and tweaking of Newton were actually measures of the respect he has for the man he calls "the best player in the league."
"If I had sons that wanted to play quarterback, I would point them in the direction of Cam Newton and Peyton Manning," Miller said. "I think that's where all the poking and fun comes for me is because I really do admire him and really respect him at the end of the day."
That reverence is mutual, Newton said.
"Great player. Ninety-nine on Madden," said Newton, who added that Miller is "a great and exceptional talent, one of the great players in this NFL by far."
Newton, who faces his nemesis again Thursday night in the 2016 NFL kickoff in Denver, swears he didn't mind Miller rubbing it in after denying him the Lombardi Trophy.
"No, it doesn't bother me at all," Newton insisted. "He's a great player and with his elite ability, it gives him the right to do that."
Newton spent much of his offseason adjusting to becoming a father and working on a Nickelodeon TV show for kids called "All In With Cam Newton."
But escaping the Super Bowl loss wasn't easy. Miller was everywhere.
His cross-country victory lap included four dozen national TV appearances. Manning called it Miller's "world celebrity tour," a six-month jet-setting junket of television and dance studios, A-list parties and B-roll appearances.
Surely, Newton was pained to see all that whimsicality at his expense.
"No, sir," Newton said matter of factly.
Still, like the Super Bowl, it's something Newton clearly doesn't want to talk about anymore.
"I'm so focused on the future as far as leading up to our game on Thursday, I can't even look back or dwell on the past," Newton said.
Miller isn't going down memory lane this week, either.
"Last year is last year," he said. "We really don't talk too much about the Super Bowl. We don't want the success from last year to make us lackadaisical or to have us not prepared, or to come into this game without having our guard up. We know exactly what type of team the Carolina Panthers are."
Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in the exalted 2011 draft class, is 0-2 against Miller, the second selection.
When they first faced each other in 2012, Miller had a half-dozen tackles and a sack in Denver's 36-14 win at Carolina, where he imitated Newton's Superman celebration after taking him down.
In the Super Bowl, Miller had six tackles and 2½ sacks, forced two fumbles and broke up a pass.
Newton's 60 minutes of frustration on the field spilled over to his post-game interview when he answered questions with terse, short responses while slumped behind a podium with a hoodie covering most of his face.
After three minutes he abruptly got up and walked off, drawing the ire of some other athletes who criticized his antics.
Miller was voted the game's MVP and quickly embarked on an offseason that transformed him from NFL superstar to mainstream celebrity. He signed the biggest contract ever for a non-quarterback : $114.5 million over six years, including $70 million in guarantees.
That came roughly a year after Newton set the standard for franchise QBs with his five-year, $103 million deal, with $60 million guaranteed.
Once the schedule came out featuring the Super Bowl participants kicking off the 2016 season, Newton responded to Miller's Instagram jab by replying: "Thought this was cute Von Miller. Lookin lookin lookin . lookin for revenge. Sept. 8."
He included the hashtags "All respect to you my killa," and "I know you will be ready, we will too."