THE MORNING AFTER: Just a moment for Miller

NEW ORLEANS  – If you thought the replay was really bad, imagine having to walk right up him and see it.

Athletic trainers face this all the time. When a player goes down with a gruesome injury, they’re the first to arrive on the scene to render immediate aid. Typically the players follow, going up to their injured teammate to provide comfort and support.

Sunday was another example of this at the Superdome in New Orleans. In the sometimes chaotic span of a three-hour football game in front of 70,000 fans, it’s a true moment of humility that exposes the humanity of this violent sport.

When Zach Miller suffered one of the more graphic injuries in recent memory for the franchise, a closely contest game between the Bears and Saints froze. Grabbing his knee, frozen in what appeared to be a state of shock, teammates stood around him in hopes of lending what support they can.

Tre McBride went down to a knee to lean down as Miller turned over in pain. He had his reason to run to his side.

“Zach was somebody I really looked up to when I first got here,” said the receiver. “Really cool guy. Really down to earth. He was one of the first people to talk to me when I signed on to the Bears. I am going to miss him this season. I do not what the injury is, but if he is not back I will miss him.”

Tanner Gentry took a knee to say something to the tight end as the athletic trainers went to work in what turned out to be an effort to save his leg. Mitchell Trubisky was next, running over to Miller’s side to give whatever comfort he could. He has his reasons to get to Miller’s side, even beyond the fact that it was the tight end that caught his first ever touchdown pass.

“Zach means a lot to this team, beyond the X’s and O’s and what he brings to the field, but more what he brings to us as a person,” said Trubisky of Miller. “Specifically, to me, how much he has helped me grow over this process.”

Dion Sims was also kneeling down to his side when John Fox came in. He kneeled behind Miller, who was now on his back as his knee started to be stabilized as best they could at the moment.

John Fox was next.

The coach started with a few taps of support on the shoulder pads as the tight end was lying there in pain. When Miller put his hands back behind his shoulder pads, Fox grabbed them just for a second, then bent over to whisper something to Miller.

The picture above was capture by a WGN-TV camera. It was a short moment between player a coach unlike ones you would typically see on a football field. It’s easy to attach hyperbole to this moment, but indeed it shows how close of a connection that can be developed in an often cold, results-driven game.

“He is a fantastic person. He’s a great teammate. He is loved in our locker room,” said Fox when asked about Miller after the game. “You hate to see it (injury) happen to anybody, especially somebody like that.”

Alas, it did. It produced a moment like you see above. Frozen in time, player and coach, where victory takes a back seat to humanity.