Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Heath Miller: Quiet Riot

The Steelers' All-Pro, all-class tight end lets his play do the talking.




Photo by Mike Fabus/Pittsburgh Steelers
 

 

Heath Miller doesn’t like to talk about himself. But ask anyone else about him, and you’ll get an earful. In Swords Creek, Va., a tiny mining town just 40 miles from the Kentucky border, everyone has a favorite story.

For Doug Hubbard, Miller’s former football coach at Honaker High School, it’s the one about the dirt snowball. In 2000, Miller was the Honaker Tigers’ star quarterback when tensions started to boil over during a state playoff game. Miller just completed a crucial first down to his wide receiver, who was slammed hard onto the turf. So hard, in fact, that Miller’s teammate picked a clump of dirt and grass out of his face mask and whipped it at the opposing defender to taunt him.

When the receiver returned to the huddle, Hubbard recalls, Miller turned to him and said softly and simply, “If you ever pull something like that again, you’ll never get another pass from me.”

“That was the kind of leader he was,” Hubbard says. “There would be times when we ran the option and Heath could have just strolled right into the end zone, but instead, he tossed the ball back to a teammate and blocked for them just so they could score.”

Even after converting to tight end at the University of Virginia and going on to win the John Mackey Award (given to the college football’s best at the position), plus two Super Bowl rings and a trip to the Pro Bowl with the Steelers, Miller hasn’t forgotten home. Every year since being drafted in 2005, he used his Reebok endorsement money to buy cleats for the entire Honaker football team.

“I’m not sure Heath even understands how much that meant to our kids,” Hubbard says. “I see students that don’t even follow football walking around the hallways of the school wearing Heath’s No. 83 jersey.”

For Hubbard, Miller’s character evokes memories of Steelers legend Jack Lambert, who on the outside may seem nothing like the mild-mannered tight end. “Chuck Noll once made the comment that Lambert was a defender of what is right in the world,” Hubbard says. “And I think that statement is the best way to sum up what Heath is all about.”

 

PM: Be honest. What’s harder: blocking Ray Lewis or keeping your 2-year-old son entertained?
HM: Oh gosh, my son is all over the place right now. When I come through the door every day, he doesn’t even say hello to me—he immediately goes and finds a ball. He holds it up and says, “ball.” That’s one of the few words he can say. When I’m home, I’m chasing him and throwing balls around the house all day.

Do you have to suffer through any kids’ TV shows?
Absolutely. “Yo Gabba Gabba” is the favorite. Actually, we went to the [live-action] “Yo Gabba Gabba” show in Pittsburgh. LaMarr Woodley and some of the other guys took their kids, too, and they got up on stage and started dancing with the crew. It was pretty entertaining.

Why didn’t you get up on stage?
I didn’t want to ruin the experience for my son.

Who is your closest friend on the team?
Off the field, it’s Brett Keisel.

Did you encourage Brett to grow that magnificent beard?
No, but I bought him a beard comb a few weeks ago for that thing. He needs to use it.

What’s his secret? Does he borrow Troy Polamalu’s Head & Shoulders conditioner?
I hope so. I’m not trying to get close enough to him to see if it stinks or not.

When you came out of college, scouts had you pegged as a pass-catching tight end whose only weakness was blocking. Now, you’re arguably the best blocking tight end in the NFL. How did that happen?
I was always pretty confident in my ability to block, but the longer I’ve been in this league, the more I’ve realized that hard work is the way you stick around. Every year, you see so many talented guys come and go. I take pride in doing whatever I’m asked to help the team win.

Being in the trenches also has its drawbacks. Troy has expressed concern about the serious effects of concussions. Does it ever worry you?
Yeah, certainly. The reports coming out about the long-term effects you have from this game definitely make you think twice when you go home and look at your son. I want to be around to see the person my son grows up to [be] as an adult. It’s a tough situation that we’re all trying to educate ourselves about. I know this game won’t last forever.

What do you want Steelers fans to remember about you at the end of your career?
Hopefully that I gave everything I had to the team. And that I was respected not only as a player, but also as a person.

 

Favorite restaurant in the 'Burgh: Any steakhouse.

Most-played song on your iPod: Anything by Pearl Jam.

Worst locker-room DJ: Ziggy Hood. It's the same tunes every time.

Favorite YouTube video of the moment: The little kid lip syncing to Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."

Biggest fear: Heights.

Hidden talent: Drawing.

Most-memorable block: Willie Parker's 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The careful documentary is a valuable document of the pontiff's philosophy. As of a film, there are issues.

Popular Peter's Pub Announces Final “Last Call”

The owners of the Oakland Avenue bar announced on Facebook they have decided to retire -- but are planning one last “hoorah.”

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

The Strip District restaurant draws a diverse community to its nightly ifṭār buffet.

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

The new escape room in Pleasant Hills is a great game for newer players.

Looking for a Royal Wedding Watch Party in Pittsburgh?

With the ceremony just hours away, several watch parties and live screenings of the nuptials have already sold out. But we found a few more places in Pittsburgh still taking guests whose invitations got lost in the mail.

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

For the time being, at least, fans continue to send owner Bob Nutting a message wrapped in apathy.

Sunrise, Sunset: Pittsburgh Playhouse's Second Act

The curtain is closing this month on the historical Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland, but it will rise again when Point Park University this fall unveils its new theater Downtown, a space with a history of its own.

A Matter of Pride: Delta Foundation's Struggles with Success

Within the span of 10 years, the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh has brought the city’s annual Pride festival to previously unimaginable heights. That growth, however, has left some members of the community behind — and unhappy.

Remembering Bruno Sammartino: “The Italian Superman”

The storied grappler captured the imagination — and the hearts — of generations of Pittsburghers.

Best Restaurants 2018

This year we recommend 40 establishments as our region's top restaurants.For the second year in a row, we categorize the restaurants in All-Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out and Classic Pittsburgh to help you find whatever suits your mood.

Chef of the Year: Jamilka Borges

Jamilka Borges, executive chef of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor, raises the bar with her dedication to volunteerism as well as her culinary prowess.

Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

When you see a show at one of these organizations, you may enjoy it as much as the children.

If You Jump, We Jump (At The Giant Bouncy House for Adults)

The world’s biggest bouncy house is coming to the Lawrence County Fair in New Castle.

The 400-Word Review: Deadpool 2

Can the sequel to the lightning-in-a-bottle superhero hit live up to its predecessor?

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Thinking about starting a creative business but don't know where to start? From photography to interior design, Gamechangers, the new podcast from local textile designer Savannah Hayes, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the design industry from the female perspective.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Popular Peter's Pub Announces Final “Last Call”

Popular Peter's Pub Announces Final “Last Call”

The owners of the Oakland Avenue bar announced on Facebook they have decided to retire -- but are planning one last “hoorah.”

Comments

Looking for a Royal Wedding Watch Party in Pittsburgh?

Looking for a Royal Wedding Watch Party in Pittsburgh?

With the ceremony just hours away, several watch parties and live screenings of the nuptials have already sold out. But we found a few more places in Pittsburgh still taking guests whose invitations got lost in the mail.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

The Strip District restaurant draws a diverse community to its nightly ifṭār buffet.

Comments

Filmmaker David Bernabo Looks Beyond The Menu

Filmmaker David Bernabo Looks Beyond The Menu

He examines the visible yet unseen labor in the service industry with his documentary, "Eating & Working & Eating & Working."

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

When you see a show at one of these organizations, you may enjoy it as much as the children.

Comments

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

Looking to switch up your physical activity now that it finally feels like spring? We found four sports you can play locally that you may never have considered.

Comments


Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

The new escape room in Pleasant Hills is a great game for newer players.

Comments

Phipps Summer Show is Bizarre and Essential

Phipps Summer Show is Bizarre and Essential

At "Gardens of Sound and Motion," Phipps offers giants, living sculptures and more oddities.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

For the time being, at least, fans continue to send owner Bob Nutting a message wrapped in apathy.

Comments

Penguins’ Epitaph: So Close and Yet So Far Away

Penguins’ Epitaph: So Close and Yet So Far Away

To win the Stanley Cup Championship you have to be good, but you also have to be lucky. The Penguins weren’t enough of either this time.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The careful documentary is a valuable document of the pontiff's philosophy. As of a film, there are issues.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Deadpool 2

The 400-Word Review: Deadpool 2

Can the sequel to the lightning-in-a-bottle superhero hit live up to its predecessor?

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

It was always Ashley Watkins’ dream to have her grandfather perform her wedding ceremony — but a serious illness almost got in the way.

Comments

Puppy Love Leads to Happily Ever After

Puppy Love Leads to Happily Ever After

This groom-to-be took advantage of a photo shoot with the couple’s pup to get down on one knee — and have the big moment captured on film.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Thinking about starting a creative business but don't know where to start? From photography to interior design, Gamechangers, the new podcast from local textile designer Savannah Hayes, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the design industry from the female perspective.

Comments

Highland Park House Tour Features Architectural Stunners

Highland Park House Tour Features Architectural Stunners

Included on this year’s tour is a 22-room Gilded Age mansion restored to perfection.

Comments