Bears tight end Zach Miller announced Tuesday via social media that "the time has come to move on from playing the game of football."
Over the past 17 months, Miller has been rehabbing and recovering from a serious leg injury. On Oct. 29, 2017 in New Orleans, he suffered a dislocated knee and torn popliteal artery while catching an apparent 25-yard touchdown pass that was later reversed to an incomplete pass following a replay review.
The following is the statement that Miller released in full:
"To the City of Chicago, my beloved Bears fans and NFL fans everywhere:
"The time has come to move on from playing the game of football. It has been an incredible journey for myself and my entire family and we can't thank you enough for your continued support. I would love nothing more than to step onto Soldier Field one last time, but physically I cannot give the game and our fans what they deserve. It's difficult to find the words to express my love and gratitude to every single person that has cheered my name, lifted me up and stood strong with me throughout my career. I am forever grateful.
"To the McCaskey Family and the entire Bears organization, THANK YOU for changing my life! To my family, teammates and coaches, I value nothing more than the friendships and love I have gained from this game! I love you all!
"And to everyone else chasing a dream: never stop, never settle!"
Miller, 34, has appeared in 33 games with 28 starts in four seasons with the Bears, catching 101 passes for 1,161 yards and 11 touchdowns.
After missing three straight NFL seasons due primarily to injuries, Miller blossomed with the Bears in 2015, catching 34 passes for 439 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns.
The success was a long time coming for Miller, who hadn't played in an NFL game since 2011. After appearing in 33 contests with five starts with the Jaguars from 2009-11, he spent the 2012 season on injured reserve with the Jaguars, failed to make the Buccaneers roster in 2013 and landed on injured reserve again with the Bears in 2014.
Miller traveled a unique path to the NFL even before he was bitten by the injury bug. A quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha, he was immediately converted to tight end after being selected by the Jaguars in the sixth round of the 2009 draft. His only experience at his new position in college came in the Cactus Bowl, a Division II all-star game.
Last Tuesday Miller was presented with the Bears' 2018 Ed Block Courage Award, a prestigious honor that's given to one player on all 32 NFL teams who best exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage and serves as an inspiration in the locker room. The award recipients, who are voted for by their teammates, symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication, and they are considered community role models.