When the Denver Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil to “Faxgate,” it hurt the team’s pass rush, but it hurt Von Miller even more. Miller needed Dumervil. He needed that mentor and older-brother figure in his life to show him how to be a true professional, and when he left, his absence was felt.

That offseason, Miller was suspended six games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, and there were real questions about whether Denver’s superstar pass rusher had his head in the game.

Even Chris Harris admitted as much, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN, “I’ve said, before Von didn’t really have that discipline, that drive. Before he was talented; now he’s talented with hard work. He wants to be great. I don’t know if he did before.”

Von went on to tear his ACL in Week 16 of that season, missing out on the Broncos’ Super Bowl run, but John Elway made it a priority to bring in someone who could help guide Von Miller — to show him what it means to be great.

Enter, DeMarcus Ware.

“DeMarcus … he just … DeMarcus was my idol. … DeMarcus just … I don’t know. DeMarcus … he’s just the kind of player, the kind of person … I don’t know, I have so many thoughts in my head. … DeMarcus, he just came here at exactly the right time,” Miller said. “I’m a totally different guy than I was a couple years ago. DeMarcus got here a couple years ago. The people around me, my family, my closest friends helped me do it. But so did DeMarcus. DeMarcus was big. Very big. Huge, really.”

Ware isn’t just a great football player; he’s a great leader, mentor and teammate. More importantly, he’s exactly what Miller needed.

Between tearing his ACL and teaming up with Ware, Miller was hit with a dose of reality, and he hasn’t been the same since.

“Because he learned right then, it can just end,” Harris said. “I’ve said it’s crazy to think about, but tearing his ACL might be the best thing that happened to him. That, and DeMarcus.”

In the last two seasons, Miller has regained his health and his place amongst the league’s most fearsome defenders, culminating in his historic performance against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. He owes much of his success to DeMarcus Ware.

“You get to see greatness up close and personal. The coaches always tell you this is what leadership looks like,” Miller said. “You’ve got all these greats that come through here, and they tell you this and they tell you that, but having a real-life example right across just a couple feet from me and him being my idol, it was just great. I get to come in and see what type of shoes he wore every day, how he laces up his shoes, how he comes to work, how does he handle adversity from the injuries and all that stuff. I got to see it up close and personal. … It was great timing.

“It’s just DeMarcus, being a guy that I grew up trying to be like from my tape and the way I played the game. Even the way he walked off the field, ran on the field, the way he’s got his hands and stuff, the little stuff.”

Together, Ware and Miller have helped propel this Denver Broncos team to the Super Bowl, and they’ll need to do the same this Sunday if the Broncos want to seal the deal.