Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller has been one of the NFL's best pass rushers since John Elway took him with the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. He put up 11.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, and backed that up with 18.5 quarterback takedowns in 2012, good for third in the league behind J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith. Now that bookend Elvis Dumervil is in Baltimore after a fax-based contract fiasco, Miller is expected to be the leader of the Broncos' defensive front. He's ready for that challenge, but Miller is just as excited about another prospect -- his future as a possible chicken magnate. There's a new company called Miller Farms, and Denver's sackmaster is serious about this stuff.
“Got my first chickens—38 chickens," Miller said from the team's facility in Englewood, Colo. on Thursday. "I’m pretty excited about it. You’ve got to start somewhere. As you guys all know, getting into the poultry industry is something that I always wanted to do. I just didn’t want to go out and buy a [chicken] house and do all this stuff and throw money at all that stuff. I really wanted to get to the fundamentals, get back to just raising chicks, and I’m just going to go from there. I raised chicks in college in class and stuff, but now it’s just a project for me to do it on my own and see where I go with it. I’m pretty excited about it. The chickens are not out here in Denver—the weather is fluctuating way too much right now. I’ve got them back in Dallas. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a start for Miller Farms right now.”
Miller actually majored in poultry science at Texas A&M ("I raised chicks in college in class and stuff"), so this isn't a fly-by-night operation. Miller's got eight acres in Dallas, and this is just the beginning.
"We had a chicken coop for about a year-and-a-half now, just no chickens in it," he said. "We finally just made the move to go ahead and get them. So I’m pretty excited about it. I’m looking forward to seeing what it turns out. Miller Farms is where I’m starting out, but it’s all raw right now. Who knows? I’m only in my third year in the league. This is just a small investment where I can see where I go from here. Hopefully it will snowball into something bigger.”
Speaking of something bigger, Miller has great expectations for his third NFL season. The Broncos were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens despite a 13-3 record and the top seed in the AFC. Even when he was part of a USO tour in Afghanistan, Miller found football inspiration -- in this case, from J.J. Watt, who led the NFL in sacks with 20.5.
"We were good friends before all of that stuff but when you see the way the guy works—it’s a motivator for me. The guy works out every day. I want to take that aspect of what makes him the type of player that he is and add it to my game. We were out in Afghanistan and he woke me up in the morning and he wanted to go work out. He was telling me he was getting ready to go to the Astros [game] to throw the opening pitch. We were working out in Afghanistan and having a good time in Afghanistan and you leave and turn on ESPN and you see J.J. just cracking them out there [in batting practice]. He had been working at it.
"I just want to take that aspect of what makes him the type of person and the type of player he is and just add a little bit to my game and hopefully I can have a little bit better season.”
Miller's an original, and he's proud of that. He's also got 32 different eyeglass frames, many of which were acquired during a recent shopping binge in New York's SoHo neighborhood.
“I’m the only one that wears glasses and raises chickens and plays football the way I do,” he told the New York Times in January.
Well, there's no arguing that. In fact, there's only one hero we could think of who has engaged in such poultry-related acts of athletic derring-do!