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NFL Star Von Miller On His Coronavirus Diagnosis: 'I Was Shocked'

Von Miller, the defensive star for the Denver Broncos, announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus. That makes him the highest-profile NFL player — and the second active player this week — to publicly announce a positive test for COVID-19.

Miller is a former Super Bowl MVP and was the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. His diagnosis became public a week before the NFL is set to hold its upcoming draft without fans, players or league personnel in attendance, out of concern about the coronavirus.

The Pro Bowl linebacker said he had been taking the spread of the virus very seriously and remained at his home in Denver for about four weeks. He "probably left the house four times" to get food, never leaving his car, Miller said in a Friday interview with NBC's Today show.

"I was shocked," Miller said.

"It all started with just a simple cough and it got worse. I also have asthma," he added. "My girlfriend, she was telling me that I wasn't sounding normal and I should try my nebulizer so I did ... I had waited another day — the cough still didn't go away."

Miller said he got tested two days later.

The Denver Broncos, where Miller has played his entire career, released a statement on Thursday saying he is the first person within the organization to be confirmed to have the virus.

"After experiencing flu-like symptoms, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has tested positive for COVID-19. Von has elected to share his diagnosis publicly to emphasize that anyone can be afflicted with coronavirus," the Broncos' statement said.

In an Instagram story posted to his account, Miller thanked fans for their support, adding, "I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get thru this!"

"'Take this seriously' It's definitely FOR REAL," he said.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen said he has tested positive for the coronavirus. He was the first-known active player to contract the disease, which has confirmed to have infected more than 680,000 in the U.S., as of Friday afternoon, according to a coronavirus tracker from Johns Hopkins University.

Allen's diagnosis came to light weeks after Sean Payton, the head coach for the New Orleans Saints, confirmed he had the COVID-19 disease. "Appreciate the well wishes. I'm feeling better and fortunate to not have any respiratory symptoms," he said in a Twitter post on March 19, adding the hashtag #BEATCovid.

Because of the spread of the coronavirus, all NFL facilities have been closed since last month and the league has indefinitely delayed the start of teams' offseason programs.

In a memo last week, the league sent guidance for all 32 NFL teams preparing for the NFL Draft, originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.

"Clubs have been advised to prepare to conduct the 2020 Draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet," the league said.

The draft is still set for its original dates, April 23-25. The upcoming NFL season, which starts in September, is currently scheduled to kick off as planned.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.