This story originally appeared in Mile High Sports Magazine. Read the full digital edition.

Von Miller had to say goodbye to Lil Wayne.

One rising star and one fading legend parted ways. Miller had places to be.

It was around 5:30 in the morning on Monday, Feb. 8. The hip-hop icon, Miller and a slew of Broncos partied the night away at a posh San Francisco club.

Crowned Super Bowl champions fewer than 12 hours earlier, the adrenaline was still pumping, especially for the game’s Most Valuable Player.

“You don’t really need sleep after you win a Super Bowl. It was all good,” a jovial Miller says six months later at Denver Broncos headquarters, training camp and a title defense in full swing.

Miller had just wrapped up a group session with the media at UCHealth Training Center. It was early August and just the second time he spoke with the press after inking a six-year, $114.5 million deal, including $70 million guaranteed on July 15.

To say he was in a good mood would be an understatement.

The Broncos linebacker had time for a chat on the side. Cramming the “Summer of Von” into an interview wouldn’t be easy, but Miller’s game to talk about it all.

His appearances on “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” topped the list.

“Ellen’s the best,” Miller says about his newfound celebrity friend.

The ESPY’s, endless commercial shoots and even one of the most popular children’s networks around: How will he forever remember the wildest months of his 27-year-old life?

“I have a scrapbook that has all kinds of little stubs and stuff, like from when I went on ‘The Ellen Show.’ That was pretty cool, and Nickelodeon. I have a scrapbook that my assistant is making for me,” Miller told assembled journalists minutes before the one-on-one session.

If he needs a starting place for the scrapbook, where better than the night, which quickly blended into morning, after he almost single-handedly won Super Bowl 50 for Denver? From the moment Miller was finally able to leave Levi’s Stadium, to his MVP press conference the next morning, it was go, go, go.

“I remember getting back to the hotel late – later than everyone else. I just remember trying to get back to my room to get dressed. There was all types of teammates and family members in the hallway. I shook a couple of hands, joked with a couple of guys and laughed and congratulated a whole bunch of folks. I finally got back to my room and changed clothes and ran down to the team party at the hotel. I smiled and took a lot of pictures,” Miller says.

His time and appearance already in high demand, Miller’s experience at the Santa Clara Marriott was a glimpse into what the next stretch of his offseason, summer and now life would be like. You don’t sack Cam Newton in the Super Bowl 2.5 times, force two fumbles and win MVP and still fly the tiniest-bit under the radar. Miller was a celebrity, and a darn good football player, the morning of Super Bowl 50. He was a full-fledged mega-star by the time the evening was over.

Miller’s night never truly ended. The party at the team hotel that wrapped up around 1 a.m. Monday morning was just the beginning.

“We left there and went to downtown San Francisco to a club where Lil Wayne was and we stayed there with him for a few hours and then came back to the hotel. All of the sudden I had to shoot back to downtown San Francisco for the media conference. We got back to the hotel at about 7:00 [in the morning] and we had to leave about 7:30,” Miller says.

To understand how crazy that stretch was for Miller, it’s important to have some context, and a timeline.

The Super Bowl 50 MVP, whoever that was going to be, was due at the Moscone Convention Center in the heart of San Francisco at 8:30 a.m. Monday – something determined months in advance.

Here’s a secret about the San Francisco 49ers: They no longer really embody the whole San Francisco thing.

Levi’s Stadium, their new home as of 2014, is in Santa Clara, not far from the Broncos’ Super Bowl team hotel. Fire up the old Google Maps machine and the shocking reality that it is 45.3 miles from San Fran to Santa Clara sinks in. That’d be like the Broncos putting their stadium in Georgetown (44.9 miles).

If you piece together the eight-hour stretch for Miller, it went roughly something like this:

1 a.m. to 2 a.m. – Catch a ride from the team hotel to a bumpin’ San Francisco club

2 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. – Pop bottles with Lil Wayne

5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. – Cruise back to the Santa Clara Marriott

6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. – Take a quick shower, change clothes and pack

7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. – Drive another 45 miles back to San Fran

8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. – Conduct the Super Bowl 50 MVP press conference

8:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – Hitch a ride to the San Francisco airport

And from there?

“Right after that I had to go do Ellen’s show,” Miller says. “We flew out to L.A. and did that and that’s pretty much what I did every day in the offseason.”

It had officially begun.

This was Von’s time. He was going to have fun, soak it all in, and embark on something not even he could have predicted.

But before you worry, know this: It was good, clean fun.

This wasn’t Johnny Football fun. A matured Miller had come a long way from where he was a few years prior when he was suspended by the league for six games in 2013 and in the NFL’s drug program, meaning he was tested far more often than other players for things like marijuana.

In August of 2015, Miller was released from that program. He proved without a shadow of a doubt he’d done a 180. Playing the best football of his life in the 2015 playoffs (held in early 2016) was the cherry on top of one of the best redemption stories the league had seen in a long time.

There was just one minor detail left: It was time get paid.

What a task that proved to be.

Armen Keteyian is as humble as they come.

He should brag more often.

In a move everyone expected, Denver franchise tagged Von Miller on March 1. He didn’t sign a long-term deal until right before the deadline July 15. It was an agonizing stretch for Miller and Broncos fans alike.

During that time, information about negotiations was hard to come by.

Miller famously (infamously?) said on Feb. 8 at his Super Bowl MVP press conference he expected the talks for a monster contract would be “peaceful.”

They weren’t.

After months of little activity, at least publically, someone leaked details of an offer to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Many suspected it was Broncos general manager John Elway. On June 9, a story with the headline “Broncos offer Von Miller 6-year, $114M deal; no agreement in sight” sat on the front page of A peek inside offered more details:

“Despite a proposed offer by the Denver Broncos of a six-year, $114.5 million deal to linebacker Von Miller, there is no agreement in sight and the sides are no longer negotiating at this time, sources close to the team told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

“The Broncos’ offer includes $39.8 million guaranteed in the first two years, the sources said. The guaranteed portion of the offer is really $38.5 million, but there is an additional $1.3 million in workout bonuses those first two years.”

Of course Miller did ultimately sign a six-year, $114.5 million deal, but one can see where the disagreement was centered: $39.8 million guaranteed and $70 million guaranteed are a football field apart. With a little less than a month to figure something out, prospects looked bleak.

Miller was steamed.

It was the aforementioned Keteyian who knew this better than anyone else. The longtime journalist was in the middle of more access to Miller than anyone in this profession could dream about. Now with “60 Minutes Sports,” Keteyian interviewed Miller four different times for a piece premiering on Showtime Sept. 6.

Twice they filmed at the former Texas A&M’s star house in DeSoto, Texas where he has a chicken farm. Another time they caught up in New York during a “Dancing with the Stars” practice, and finally in Denver at Broncos training camp after a deal had been inked.

“It should be a classic ‘60 Minutes’ style profile,” Keteyian said from his home back East a little less than a month before the final product debuts.

He knew while the feature story filming was ongoing it was a rare chance for a peek behind the curtain at one of the most high-profile contract talks in NFL history.

“We were with Von during various times of his negotiations, which makes for some pretty good television. I think it’s fair to say he was really uncertain what was going on and he was upset with the leaks being released to the media that were framing the negotiations in a certain way. Von made it clear to me that just wasn’t the way he wanted to negotiate, he didn’t want to do it in the media. I think in the end he made that clear to John [Elway] and to the organization, too,” Keteyian says.

Miller also made it clear publicly.

On June 16, a week after the initial leak to Schefter, Miller posted a picture on his Instagram taken during Super Bowl 50.

The caption was telling.

“I love my Teammates, Coaches, and My Fans’ but there is ‘No Chance’ I play the 2016 season under the Franchise tag,” Miller declared.

Whispers of a possible trade never grew much louder than just that, whispers, but Keteyian thinks at that point Miller was making it obvious Elway and the Broncos had three options. The football was back on their side of the field.

“I don’t think he wanted to go anywhere else, but sitting out the season was going to be an option for him. He wasn’t going to sign the franchise tender for $14 million – that just wasn’t going to happen. His position was essentially ‘I sign a long-term deal or they trade me or I’m going to sit out the season,’” Keteyian says.

While the former NFL sideline reporter and current CBS News and lead “60 Minutes Sports” correspondent never says Miller actively griped to him, his assertion earlier that the piece made for “pretty good television” makes it clear that tuning in will reveal just how contested talks became.

This boiled down to the franchise tag, a tool available to all 32 NFL general managers, because in the last CBA the NFLPA agreed to it. Sure, it might not have been the smartest move, but John Elway didn’t do anything wrong when using that option.

Still, Miller became a spokesman against the tag.

In a July 11 interview with ESPN, just four days before the deadline, the Super Bowl 50 MVP made his feelings clear.

“I’ve never really played for money,” Miller stated. “It’s bigger than that for me. [The franchise tag] is a league-wide problem that I feel like I’m in a situation to help out with.”

Essentially, Miller felt the tag is unfair because, under it, players can’t talk with any other team besides the one who tagged them. There’s no way to figure out an accurate market value.

“I thought that was very unusual given the modern-day NFL, for a guy to break ranks with the [players’ association]. I also thought that was a very noble response by Von. For any professional athlete, particularly an NFL player, who finds himself in the position that Von was in, that’s what they all work for. That second contract is the make-or-break deal for a lot of these guys. I think he thought he was offered an initial deal that was well below his value and it hurt him,” Keteyian says.

Luckily for Broncos fans, the hurt feelings only lasted a little more than a month. Miller penned a deal that was officially announced by the team on July 15. It made him the highest paid non-quarterback in NFL history. In the end, Elway realized he couldn’t let a player so valuable get away. Miller and his agents held strong, and by all accounts, “won” the contentious negotiations.

The spring and summer wasn’t all stress and hard feelings. You know about the big highlights (DWTS, Ellen, Nickelodeon), but how about two underrated aspects? The travel and the birth of a social media star.

Von Miller documented it all on Snapchat.

Six round trips from Los Angeles to New York.

Two more from Miami to Los Angeles.

And oh-so-many flights in-between.

“I’m still working on it, my man,” Miller says while hustling off the field after a steaming-hot training camp practice in mid-August about a week after the initial chat.

The question’s a simple one, but the fact he’s struggling to come up with an answer is telling.

Just how many plane rides did Miller make this offseason?

When all was said and done, Miller, with some help from Sports Illustrated, calculated 61 total between 25 cities.

Still, the travel really didn’t bother Miller.

“It’s kind of peaceful being on a plane. I like to take time each day to think and be by myself. I think about what I’m going to do next. The plane – it was great for that. To have that time just to myself with no cell phone or anything. I enjoy plane rides,” Miller says.

There may not have been phones on the planes, but there was still plenty of time before and after flights. Miller documented it all on Snapchat – arguably the trendiest social media app in America right now. It allows all people, famous or not, to share what they’re doing at a given instant with their friends, or in Miller’s case, his insane number of followers.

“I love Snapchat. It’s a great way to connect to the fans. It’s different from Instagram and Twitter and all those other social media platforms – especially with me and what’s going on in my life. There’s no way I could fabricate any of this stuff. I just pull out the phone and record and put it on Snapchat,” Miller says.

Translation: Whether Miller’s about to hop on a jet to Vegas, catch a shark in the Caribbean (yes, that really happened on July 24) or shoot another commercial, he can document it to prove what he’s doing in the moment.

Take Aug. 14 at a suburban Denver electronics store. Miller posted 19 different “snaps” throughout the afternoon as a member of Geek Squad, in full uniform and all. Some highlights of the 10 second (or fewer) clips included:

  • Singing and dancing to music while taking a video selfie
  • A photo shoot with a “Geek Squad” car
  • Makeup being applied by a professional artist
  • A shot of his white shirt, black tie and trademark glasses while fixing the collar on his shirt
  • Receiving a “Chickens are Dope” sign that appears gifted from someone on the promotions staff

Hold up.

To anyone over the age of 25, what’s described above might be perplexing. Why in the world would anyone watch these quick clips of “Miller being Miller” at a commercial appearance?

The answer would require a massive social experiment. The results can’t be argued with.

“I get about 100,000 views per Snapchat – it’s pretty wild,” Miller says.

At this point, Miller is so famous, people just want to know what he’s doing. This was the norm this offseason. Wherever he goes he makes sure Snapchat provides a glimpse behind the scenes. Through it all, fans have had a look into his life.

“It was a whirlwind for him. When you win the Super Bowl MVP it’s like winning the celebrity lottery in a lot of ways,” Keteyian says.

Winning that lottery comes with a spotlight that, objectively, Miller has only broadened through his social media presence. There have been paparazzi and adoring fans desperate for a picture or an autograph, but much of the attention Miller has brought upon himself.

Then again, with 100,000 viewers per post, there’s an audience out there craving the content. It’s something that may have rubbed his head coach the wrong way in the past, but Miller’s now in the clear.

Keteyian says, “I asked Gary [Kubiak] about it and he gave me a really interesting answer. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘you know, five or six years ago I would have been upset about something like that and it would have bothered me. But it didn’t bother me at all.’ He said it was a sign of Von’s curiosity and his desire to experience life in a way that makes him come back a more focused football player.

“I think Von’s got the ability to easily compartmentalize his life. Yeah, he had a wild ride, but look, he’s single and 27 years old and he just signed a massive contract. I don’t think he should be spending much time in a monastery.”

Miller hasn’t had any time to really digest the last six-plus months of his life. When asked if any of this has soaked in, he offers perhaps his most clichéd answer.

“I really haven’t taken the time yet to reflect back. Thinking about being Super Bowl MVP and all that stuff, I just want to keep doing it and keep achieving to try to get more and more. That’s where my mindset is,” Miller says.

Whether it’s more trophies, more money or more fame, he’s on the fast track to it all.

Back in that club in San Francisco, mere hours after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, you have to wonder if Miller said goodbye to Lil Wayne or if Weezy said goodbye to him.

Von Miller won’t be saying goodbye to the spotlight anytime soon.