Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller took his first unassisted steps on Sunday following a horrific leg injury on the football field in October.
The 33-year-old walked about 10 steps with a brace on his left leg and without crutches, showing his progress after eight surgeries to save the limb he injured in the October 29 game against the New Orleans Saints.
When asked how he felt taking his first steps in six weeks, he cheerfully said, “like a million bucks.”
Miller dislocated his knee and tore the popliteal artery after he landed poorly while attempting to catch a touchdown pass in the third quarter of the away match.
His initial emergency procedure was performed by vascular surgeons to repair the torn artery, which required grafting tissue from his right leg. He has had seven follow-up surgeries, he told reporters during a visit to the Bears training facility last week; he doesn’t know if he’ll require additional surgeries.
Miller is currently on injured reserve for the Bears and will miss the remainder of the 2017-2018 season. Though doctors are optimistic, he doesn’t know whether he will return to the NFL following his injury.
“I haven’t really told anybody yes or no, whether that’s a definitive thing for me,” he said on the Dan Patrick Show on Friday. “I haven’t been told ‘no.’ I’ve actually been told ‘yes’ by a number of doctors.”
Still, Miller isn’t sold on whether it’s the right move.
"For me, it’s, ‘We’ll cross that road when it comes time,’ " he said.
Though this is Miller’s most extreme injury as an NFL player, he is no stranger to getting hurt on the field. The tight end didn’t play any games from 2012 through 2014 due primarily to various foot and shoulder injuries. In 2016, after a career-high 47 catches, he missed the final six games of the season with a fractured foot.
Photo credit: Instagram / @zachmiller86