The National Football League made it official on Tuesday, suspending Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller for the first six games of the 2013 season for violations of the league's substance abuse policy.
The 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be eligible to return to action until the week following the Broncos' Oct. 13 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"The Substances of Abuse policy requires everyone to comply with the rules. Although my suspension doesn't result from a positive test, there is no excuse for my violations of the rules," Miller said in a statement issued shortly after the ruling.
"I made mistakes and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans, and myself. I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others. I will not make the same mistakes about adhering to the policy in the future. During my time off the field, I will work tirelessly and focus exclusively on remaining in peak shape. I look forward to contributing immediately upon my return to the field and bringing a championship back to the people of Denver."
Reports earlier this summer indicated that Miller was headed for a four-game penalty, but ESPN and NFL.com both revealed in recent days that an extra two games was on the table and that the third-year star was trying to negotiate the ban back to four games.
The Denver Post had cited league sources as saying Miller's suspension was not because of a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug or a recreational drug. However, the NFL's website previously stated it could be for missing tests or counseling sessions.
"Von is one of our teammates. He's part of the family," said Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. "I certainly have his back. We support him 100 percent."
Miller was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. He recorded 64 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in his first season to earn the league's top rookie award on defense. The 24-year-old Texas A&M product built on his impressive debut campaign by posting 68 tackles and 18 1/2 sacks in 2012.
Denver opens the season against the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 5, then faces the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Jaguars over the following five weeks.
Miller will be allowed to return to game action for the Broncos' following contest, at Indianapolis on Oct. 20.
"Von has acknowledged making some mistakes in the past and is now being held accountable under the policies the league has in place. While it's very disappointing that we will be without him for the start of the season, we will support him as a football team and organization," said Broncos head coach Jon Fox in a team-issued release.
"All of us will stand by Von and help him however possible as he continues his personal growth off the field. Replacing him on the field will not be easy, but every team must deal with adversity. We will plan accordingly and be prepared. I am confident our team will step up and meet the challenge. I expect Von to stay in excellent shape and be ready to play at a high level when he returns to the Broncos."
To mitigate the effects of the suspension, plus a wrist injury to middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, the Broncos moved swiftly to sign 11-year veteran linebacker Paris Lenon.
The 35-year-old Lenon totaled 103 tackles, two sacks and one interception in 16 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012.
Since breaking into the NFL with Green Bay in 2002, Lenon has racked up 809 tackles, 12 sacks and five interceptions over 175 appearances for the Packers, Lions, Rams and Cardinals.