Billy Miller still has the letter that said he was not ready for the NFL.
It's framed behind a thin piece of glass and leaned neatly in the back of his locker in Reliant Stadium. It looks more like a memo with a moderately sized NFL logo anchored at the top and some of the scariest news of Miller's life typed underneath.
The Texans tight end was released from the Denver Broncos before the 2001 season.
He keeps the letter that officially informed him of the team's decision for motivation
tucked neatly behind shirts and jackets just a few feet from an ever-open Bible.
He sees it when he dresses, when he relaxes and when he ties his shoes.
"It was a wake up call kind of," Miller said Wednesday, three days before the
team that gave him another chance faces the team that drafted him. "It made me
focus back on football and make me know that it's important ... That reminded
me that this is a job and they can cut you at anytime.
"Every week is a job interview so I've got to approach it like that."
Miller was drafted in seventh round in 1999 as a 219-pound receiver. He left Denver as a 246-pound tight end with an aggressive approach to blocking and good hands.
The Texans liked that and signed him prior to the team's first training camp.
"We liked him and thought he could be a tight end for us," Texans director of pro scouting Chuck Banker said. "He had a good workout when we brought him in.
"He was a competitor, good fight. You could see that on tape. He would get after you."
Banker said the team had been watching Miller for a while and graded him coming out of college and in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 preseasons.
Just how Miller, who was out of football for almost a year after his release, parlayed a workout into a starting job with another NFL team is now history.
He had just six catches in two seasons as a Bronco but scored the first touchdown in Texans history Sept. 8, 2002 against the Dallas Cowboys. The 19-yard catch and dive into the end zone will be forever locked into Houston history.
Miller went on to lead the team with 51 and the letter factor is less extreme than it was earlier in his career. receptions and three touchdowns. Those are good memories for Miller.
But the motivational missive still stares back at him and reminds him that in
pro football there is always another guy wanting to take your job.
He should know better than anyone.
He was that guy.
"Anytime you're tired or fatigued or think 'man I really don't want to do it today,' there's somebody down the street that wants to," Miller said. "They can always cut you and bring that guy like I was off the street that was just hungry. I just have to make sure I'm working hard and hungrier than that guy on the streets."