DECATUR — Brit Miller would like to be on a shopping spree right now, shopping himself to National Football League teams.
Trouble is most of the shops are closed, as he learned this past week during a visit with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I met with their trainers and doctors — the guys who screen everybody,” said Miller, whose football career has taken him from Eisenhower High School to the University of Illinois and to four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams.
“I thought we were going to put pen to paper, but then a guy comes in and starts reading my contract and they just wanted to put things on hold.
“I went in there with a little more hope, but that’s the way it is. I don’t think teams are going to be doing much until late March or April, maybe after the draft.”
Miller has to overcome two obstacles in order for his pro football career to continue.
He has to convince teams he’s healthy after being cut by the Rams last November following a season-long struggle with a grade 2 hamstring tear.
Then he has to overcome the biggest hurdle of all — his position. In the modern day NFL, fullback seems to be going the way of the dinosaur. Some teams don’t even use a roster spot for a fullback. Others put a tight end or a lineman back there when short-yardage blocking is required.
In Miller’s case, he’ll market himself as a versatile player who can contribute as a fullback and as a special teams warrior. He was, after all, the Rams’ special teams captain and has a reputation around the league for being able to contribute on those squads.
“Physically, I feel good,” he said while back in Decatur this week. “I’ve been working out. What people will need to see is me working out so they know I can roll.
“I hurt my hamstring in the first game of the (2012) season with the Rams and I just had to play through it. I’ve never had a hamstring issue in my entire life, but there was never time for it to heal. That’s the way the league is. You have to play even if you’re dinged up.
“When they brought (center) Scotty Wells up, they released me and ran an offense without a fullback.
“I think that’s where the team is heading anyway with (quarterback) Sam (Bradford). He wants to spread the ball out.”
It did please Miller to watch a Super Bowl in which both teams utilized fullbacks. For the Ravens, it was Vonta Leach. And for the 49ers, it was something of a flashback when Brit Miller saw Bruce Miller line up at fullback. Bruce Miller wore uniform No. 49 (Miller’s number with the Rams) and the lettering on the back of his jersey said, “B. MILLER.”
“I think I paved way for him,” Brit Miller said. “I’ve talked to Bruce. People are always asking us if we’re related.”
Miller maintains a home in St. Louis, mainly because it’s sensible jumping-off point for flights he might need to make while auditioning for a job.
But he’s getting close to moving back to his hometown.
“Emily and I are actively shopping for a home in Decatur,” he said. “This is where our friends and families are. We’d like to call this home forever and we want to raise our kids here.”
Daughter Macy is two-and-a-half. Son Cooper just turned nine months. And in July, Brit and Emily will be getting married.
“It’s been about three years in the making,” he said. “I was either hurt or she was pregnant. We finally saw a chance to get down the aisle without her pregnant and without me limping.”
Also this summer Miller will once again use his “Leading the Way” charity to help the athletics programs at city high schools.
After his inaugural charity golf tournament last summer raised $10,000 for Eisenhower’s football program, Miller will host an even bigger golf tournament on Friday, June 28 at South Side Country Club.
“We learned a lot from last year’s event,” he said. “This time we’ll have morning and afternoon flights and we’ll be raising money for Eisenhower, MacArthur and St. Teresa. I hope we can double what we brought in last year.”
It’s possible, of course, the tournament could be hosted by Brit Miller, ex-NFL player.
But Miller has a knack for having things work out his way.
“I’ve been in the league for four years. I think five would be respectable,” he said. “Four isn’t where I want to end it and that’s why I’m making a push. I think I still have one or two more good years in me.
“Teams aren’t in a hurry now. They know guys like me will be there in the end. And they know I can play ball.”