LAKE FOREST – He’s a player who never let injuries early in his career keep him from fulfilling his NFL dream. Over the past few years, he earned the respect of fans in Chicago for his efforts on and off the field.
But after nearly a decade in the game, Zach Miller is moving on from football, announcing his retirement on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon.
“I would love more than anything to step on Soldier Field one last time but I physically cannot give the game and our fans what they deserve,” said Miller in his Instagram statement. “It’s difficult to find words to express my love and gratitude to every single person that has cheered my name, picked me up and stood strong with me throughout my time in this league. I am forever grateful.”
Miller has been with the Bears organization since 2014, taking the field for the team in 2015, 2016, and 2017. A serious knee injury against the Saints in October of 2017 effectively ended his career, but Miller earned praise from his teammates and fans for his work ethic in the recovery from the injury. An example of the appreciation the Bears had for the tight end came in the offseason of 2018, when the Bears still gave Miller a one-year contract even though he wasn’t going to play.
Making his debut with the Jaguars in 2009, Miller ended up being on the field for six NFL seasons. After three seasons in Jacksonville, Miller was released in 2012, signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, but was cut before the start of the season. That’s how the tight end found his way to Chicago in 2014, but a promising training camp was spoiled by a preseason foot injury that put him on injured reserve.
After being out of regular season play for four years, Miller broke out for the Bears in 2015 as he caught 34 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns. He was doing even better in 2016 with a career-high 47 catches for 486 yards and four touchdowns before a foot injury ended his season in November. Miller played eight games in 2017 for the Bears with 20 catches, 236 yards, and a pair of touchdowns before the knee injury in New Orleans.
Miller has the distinction of catching Mitchell Trubisky’s first NFL touchdown pass against the Vikings on October 9th.