Miller, Josh : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Miller, Josh

Joshua Harris Miller

Miller, a left-footed punter, is a member of the world champion New England Patriots who have won consecutive Super Bowls and three of the last four. In the 2005 Super Bowl, which ended in a 24-21 New England victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Miller punted seven times and had a 45.1 yards per punt average. Josh was a major contributor to the Patriot triumph, with three punts that were downed inside the 20 yard line. His final punt, which the Pats downed inside the 5 with a minute remaining in the game, sealed New England's victory.

The Patriots finished the 2004 regular season with a record of 14-2 and won the AFC East. After defeating the high-powered Indianapolis Colts, 20-3, in the Divisional game, the Patriots overwhelmed the top-seeded Steelers in the AFC Championship game to reach their second consecutive Super Bowl. During the regular season, Miller punted 56 times with a 42.0 average (outstanding in the rough outdoor Northeast weather). Josh had a long of 69 yards with 19 of his kicks inside the 20. In the playoffs, he has punted nine times with a 39.6 average and three inside the 20 (with a long of 52 yards).

Miller joined the Pats prior to the 2004 season after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only team he had played for in his career. In an interview prior to the AFC Championship game (Mark Cannizzaro in The New York Post, January 23, 2005), Miller recalled the day Bill Belichick recruited him as a free agent, luring him away from the Steelers. "I remember last year having a couple of teams saying, 'Come play for us,' " said Josh. "Then I remember having dinner with coach Belichick and him saying, 'I want you to be our punter.' I said, 'OK.' Going into that conversation, I said to my wife, 'I'm going to punt in a dome or I'm going to punt in great weather,' " Miller recalled. "I left the house and then I go meet coach Belichick. They had just won a [Super Bowl] trophy and we sat down and he said, 'I want you to punt for us.' I said, 'OK.' Then I said, 'What the hell did you just do?' But, any time coach Belichick says, 'Do you want to be a part of his team?' You have to say yes. You want to win. That's why you come here."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. July 14, 1970

Career Highlights:
An oustanding all-around athlete, Miller was All-State in football, played basketball, and was a decathlete while in high school. He transferred from Scottsdale Community College to the University of Arizona in 1992. The following season, the Wildcats were ranked No. 9 in the country and beat the Miami Hurricanes, 29-0, in the Fiesta Bowl. Josh was named first-team Pac Ten and first-team All-America in 1993, and played in the Senior Bowl. He finished his two-year career at Arizona with 119 punts, a 40.3 average and a 38.0 net average, with 44 punts inside the 20. In 1994 and 1995, Miller played for the Baltimore Stallions and was the top punter in the Canadian Football League; he was selected to the CFL All-Star team both years and had a combined 235 punts with a 43.6 average with a 39.5-yard net average.

In 1996, Miller began the football season by signing with the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL. After being released, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team he had been with ever since. After playing in 12 games in his first NFL season (1996), Miller has emerged as one of the top punters in the league. In 1998, he led the NFL with 34 punts inside the 20-yard line and the following year was an alternate to the Pro Bowl game. In 2000, Josh finished second in the NFL in punts inside the 20-yard line with 34 (tying his career-high).

In 2001, the Steelers ended the regular season as the best team in the AFC with a record of 13-3, winning the AFC Central Division title and clinching homefield for the playoffs. The team's success meant that Josh punted only 59 times (the Steelers had the fewest punts in the AFC) for 2,505 yards (42.5 average), a long of 64 yards, and 23 punts inside the 20 (39.0%). They lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship.

In 2002, a year after reaching the AFC title game, the Steelers finished 10-5-1 (they tied Atlanta 34-34 on November 10) and won the AFC North Divisional title. In the playoffs, they lost to the Tennessee Titans, 34-31 in overtime. Miller punted 55 times and had a 41.2 yards per punt average with a long of 62 yards.

Miller's 2002 season ended early when he was placed on injured reserve in mid-December due to a shoulder problem. He underwent surgery to correct a degenerative condition with the potential to cause arthritis. Miller explained that the pain, which began in the third week of the season, is so bad that, "I can't even pick up my daughter, and she's 18 months old...It's a shoulder and you're probably wondering how it affects the punt, but you've got to catch the ball. You've got to get the drop. And when you kick, the arm does a full circle to power yourself through.''

The team decided to place Miller on the IR because the shoulder problem had affected his punts, but in 2003, he came back strong. During the 2003 season, the Steelers finished a disappointing 6-10, third place in the AFC North. Miller punted 84 times for an average of 41.9 yards per punt and a long of 72-yards.Miller was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Commack, New York, in March 2002.

Origin:
East Brunswick, New Jersey

Career Dates:
Miller played at the University of Arizona from 1992-1993. Then he punted for the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League from 1994-1995. He played with the Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996-2003. He is playing with the New England Patriots, 2004.

Physical description:
6'3", 219 lbs.

Career Statistics:
In the NFL: (through 2004 season)

Games: 138
Punts: 628
Punt yards: 26,897
Punting average: 42.8

Longest punt: 75-yards
Inside the 20: 213
Punts blocked: 4



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References:
Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)
Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)



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