HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (May 31, 2007) -- Justin Miller's playful personality and smile were tucked away for a few minutes while he spoke briefly about his recent arrest.
"It's an unfortunate situation, and right now, it's a legal matter that I can't discuss, but I'd like to reiterate my apology to my team, the organization and my family," the New York Jets cornerback said quietly after voluntary team workouts.
Miller was arrested May 20 and charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, after an early morning fight at a New York City nightclub. The 23-year-old Pro Bowl kick returner swung at a man during an argument, but hit a woman when the man ducked out of the way, according to reports. Miller was then apprehended after a police chase around 4:20 a.m.
Later that day, Miller issued a statement through the Jets that apologized for the incident. The team also issued a statement, reiterating its high personal conduct values and refraining from further comment -- other than to say it notified the NFL commissioner's office of the incident.
Miller, often called the Jets' class clown because of his exuberance and constant joking with teammates, was all business this day. He said he recently spoke with the league office, but he and coach Eric Mangini said Miller hadn't been in touch with commissioner Roger Goodell.
Mangini would not say if any disciplinary action has been or will be taken by the team. The matter will remain internal, he said.
"Character is extremely important to us, and personal conduct is extremely important to us," said Mangini, who met with Miller and general manager Mike Tannenbaum after the arrest. "He understands exactly how I feel and we had good discussions, and it was very, very clear-cut."
Mangini said he recently spoke with Goodell about the commissioner's newly instituted no-tolerance personal conduct policy.
"That wasn't just a reaction to this situation. It's just because I support the things he's doing strongly and I want him to know that," he said. "I also wanted to talk to him a little bit about his ideas and his thoughts."
In his second season, the speedy Miller earned his first Pro Bowl selection after leading the league with 28.3 yards per kickoff return. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns: a team record 103-yarder against Indianapolis and a 99-yarder at Cleveland.
He also had 52 tackles, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries while playing right cornerback.
This wasn't Miller's first brush with the law. He was considered a potential first-round pick in 2005, but his stock fell when he was arrested for disorderly conduct a week before the draft.
The Jets selected him out of Clemson in the second round with the 57th pick, and big things were expected.
After making eight starts as a rookie, Miller became primarily a backup late in his second season. New York drafted Darrelle Revis in the first round earlier this month, trading up to nab the player many considered the best cornerback available.
Miller's spot on the team appears safe, though, because he's a valuable weapon on special teams, capable of breaking a long kickoff return at any time. Regardless of his role, Miller was just happy to be on the field this day.
"It's a situation I can't control," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm just going to work each day I come out here."
The Associated Press News Service
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