The date was May 1983. The location was Jefferson City. The event was the Missouri State Track Meet. It may be the single best athletic achievement day for one high school athlete in our town’s history. Kirkwood senior, Alvin Miller, won the meet. That is, he won the state championship for Kirkwood by himself. Miller won four events: the 110 high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles, the 100 meters and the 200 meters.
It capped a magnificent prep career, arguably the best ever in St. Louis. As a basketball player, Miller scored 1,606 career points, the most in Kirkwood history. As a football player, Miller was merely the Parade National Player of the Year. More than 200 schools recruited him. Legendary coaches like Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer made a home visits. Miller was a freaky athlete: 6-foot- 4, 225 pounds, with a 4.45 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical jump.
Miller chose Notre Dame. But a funny thing happened to him on his way to stardom: He never got there. In the second game of his second season, he tore his ACL. Now, when you tear your ACL, you are almost guaranteed of coming back. Back then if you did it, you were never the same. Miller wasn’t. He had a cup of coffee with the Buffalo Bills in their training camp, but the knee wasn’t willing.
Miller is now successful in sales with Fortune 500 company, Altria Group. He has been happily married for 17 years to Romona. They have three children: Scotty, Ariel and Lauryn.
BEST FOOTBALL PLAYER YOU PLAYED WITH? Tim Brown
BEST FOOTBALL PLAYER YOU PLAYED AGAINST? Bernie Kosar BIGGEST CROWD YOU EVER PLAYED IN FRONT OF? 105,000 at the University of Michigan
NUMBER OF TIMES YOU WERE CAUGHT FROM BEHIND WHEN YOU CAUGHT THE FOOTBALL FROM YOUR WIDE-RECEIVING POSITION? Once. It was raining all game. I started to slip and somebody tackled me at the one.
HOW DID YOU ACTUALLY FIND OUT YOU WERE PARADE NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR? To be honest, through the paper. There was no texting or Facebook. I just opened the paper on a Sunday.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU NEVER HAD GOTTEN HURT? Every time the draft comes on television. I used to think I would be doing 7UP commercials.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO GREAT YOUNG ATHLETES WHO HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE IT? No matter how talented you are, you may not make it. Let pro-ball be your dream, but your goal should be education. I am still standing. The cheering has stopped, but I am successful. It’s really sad that some ex-athletes are bankrupt, and they don’t know what to do next.
5 THINGS I THINK:
1. You can teach a kid to become a good jump-shooter and to hit a golf ball straight. The one thing you can’t do is give them velocity on a fastball. You have to be born with it.
2. The Hunger Games is the most electrifying movie I have seen all year. You don’t have to read the books to enjoy this movie.
3. Modern Family has a chance one day to be up there with Cheers, All in the Family and Seinfeld as one of the great sitcoms of all time.
4. Number of times Mike Matheny loses his temper during a press conference: over and under one—I am taking the under.
5. Ken Hitchcock is incapable of doing a boring interview. I learn something every time he talks.