'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (2024)

LAS VEGAS — When Von Miller debuted his annual “Von Miller Pass Rush Summit” in 2017 to bring together some of the NFL’s best pass rushers to learn from each other through a day of drills, conversation and film study, he was still in his prime. But as the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer has drawn closer to the end of his career, his focus has shifted to finding the best way to keep the exchange of information he created going in the future.

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That led the Buffalo Bills’ edge rusher to rebrand the event as the “Sack Summit,” and bring in Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, who’ve attended the summit for years as participants, as hosts starting this year. The three All-Pro edge rushers brought together a group of nearly 60 NFL defensive linemen Saturday at UNLV’s Fertitta Football Complex.

“For these guys that have been coming here for years, it’s giving them a piece of it just to ensure the life of it,” Miller said Saturday. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but Maxx? He’s going to play another 10.”

Miller floated the idea to expand the summit to Jordan a couple of years ago. Jordan initially pushed back but came to understand Miller’s logic.

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s you. You’re the focal point of it,’” Jordan said Saturday. “But he realized the more guys you know; the more guys will come through. So now you’ve seen this thing blossom to, what, 60 pros? They’re getting real work in. They’re talking real football. We’re doing it the right way.”

'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (1)

Von Miller, left, and Warren Sapp had plenty to share with the players attending the Sack Summit in Las Vegas. (Eliza Biglete / Special to The Athletic)

Jordan will be 35 this season. Much like Miller, he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning of it. That helped drive the decision to loop in Crosby, who’ll only be 27 this season.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” Crosby said. “I didn’t even second-guess or question it. I was like, ‘Absolutely. Whatever you need.’”

Besides Miller, Jordan and Crosby, other notable defensive linemen who participated included Brian Burns (New York Giants), Daron Payne (Washington Commanders), Josh Allen (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Matthew Judon (New England Patriots). Additionally, Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was also on hand.

“When you have a day like this where you can come talk to your contemporaries and some young bucks around the league and the success that they have, you can now figure out what their mindset is,” Jordan said. “It’s one thing to break down film like, ‘All right, well he killed ’em with this cross chop,’ or whatever it is, but it’s another thing to be like, ‘All right, how did you get there? What was your mindset going into it?’ Because I might look at it completely different than how you look at it. So, if I can figure out his mindset, I can figure out how I can improve my game.”

The defensive linemen split into smaller groups for a series of drills before they all congregated near the middle of the field. Once there, Crosby, Jordan, Miller, Sapp and other defensive linemen took turns demonstrating various pass-rush moves while explaining their thought process.

'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (2)

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“Von says it every time: It’s about linking and learning,” Crosby said. “And if you can take one thing and apply it, that can take your game to another level. I learned it from (former longtime NFL defensive line coach) Rod Marinelli: constant and never-ending improvement. I come here with an open mind and just be a sponge for information and try to take at least one thing or three things or five or however many things I can do and actually go and work and practice that and apply it and have it translate to my game.”

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Following the on-the-field work, the defensive linemen moved to the film room inside the football complex. Once there, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik held a question-and-answer session focused on financial literacy, with an emphasis placed on teaching the younger players in the room how to manage their money long-term.

Afterward, ESPN analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger served as the guide for a film session that included Miller, Jordan, Crosby, Payne, Allen, Judon, Burns and others breaking down their game tape. None of them held back when it came to providing detail about how they executed moves that led to pressures, sacks and tackles for loss.

“When you love it and live it and you’re really trying to learn everything, why not help the next guy come through?” Jordan said.

“It really ain’t no secrets,” Miller said. “You should want to be able to give back.”

“Every rusher’s different,” Crosby said. “I can’t do what Von does. Von can’t do what I do. Football and pass rush in general is an art form. We come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not like I’m sitting here worried about handing out information. I feel like you learn more as a player by teaching. … I can help somebody else grow, I feel like it comes back twofold.”

'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (4)

The Sack Summit attendees at UNLV on Saturday. (Tashan Reed / The Athletic)

Crosby is an example of that coming to fruition. He’d already had success when he met Miller in 2020, but he was a long way from becoming the perennial Defensive Player of the Year contender that he is today. Despite the fact Miller played for the Denver Broncos at the time — one of the Raiders’ AFC West rivals — he committed himself to helping Crosby get better. In turn, that’s made Crosby more willing to do the same for younger defensive linemen coming into the league.

“A guy like Von, he’s helped me my whole time in this league,” Crosby said. “He was giving me props when I truly didn’t have that confidence in myself and belief in myself. He was saying I’m a franchise guy and some people thought he was talking out of his ass. He saw something in me that I didn’t even see at the time. And that’s what it’s all about. So, a guy like him, I’ll forever be indebted to him and always be there for him. Dudes like that, it’s about giving it back. Von Miller’s a Hall of Famer. Cam Jordan’s a Hall of Famer. Those are the guys that I look up to and guys that I’m trying to surpass at the same time. They give me motivation.”

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Miller and Jordan will retire in the near future. At that point, it’ll be on Crosby and fellow up-and-coming defensive linemen to become the torchbearers for the Sack Summit.

“I just want it to be sustainable,” Miller said. “I’m getting older. You got to get the young blood involved and merge with guys that have the same vision that I’ve had, and they love this the same way I’ve loved it. … I want to ensure the life of the Sack Summit and continue to help guys.”

(Top photo of Maxx Crosby: Eliza Biglete / Special to The Athletic)

'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (5)'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (6)

Tashan Reed is a senior writer for The Athletic covering the Las Vegas Raiders. He previously covered Florida State football for The Athletic. Prior to joining The Athletic, he covered high school and NAIA college sports for the Columbia Missourian, Mizzou football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball for SBNation blog Rock M Nation, wrote stories focused on the African-American community for The St. Louis American and was a sports intern at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis through the Sports Journalism Institute. Follow Tashan on Twitter @tashanreed

'We're doing it the right way': Von Miller keeps Sack Summit evolving with future in mind (2024)
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