For nearly a decade, Von Miller has secured his spot as one of the best players in the NFL. He is a Super Bowl MVP and, even as the Denver Broncos struggle to play like they once did, he remains a much-needed leader in the locker room. Miller’s passion for the game of football is well-documented, but it is another passion of his that makes Miller unique in the NFL.
Von Miller the football player
Miller’s resume on the football field speaks for itself. He came into the league in 2011 as the Broncos were struggling to find a new identity in the NFL. He wasted no time to show what he was worth in the NFL, amassing 64 tackles and 11.5 sacks in a rookie season that was overshadowed by the brief emergence of Tim Tebow. While Tebow proved to be a one-hit-wonder in the NFL, however, Miller continued to put in work.
After Von Miller’s rookie season, the Broncos made a splash and brought in an aging Peyton Manning to take over the offense. The result was the best run of football the team had seen since general manager John Elway was the quarterback of the squad. This also coincided with Miller’s best stretch of football. He became an All-Pro player in his second year, and by year five, he was a Super Bowl MVP.
Miller collected another All-Pro selection in 2016, his third, but the team began to go downhill. Still, despite the struggles of the Denver Broncos, Miller has remained one of the best players that the NFL has to offer.
To date, he has 106 sacks, 490 combined tackles, 380 solo tackles, and 216 quarterback hits. With so much going his way, one might expect that Miller’s entire life is devoted to the game of football, but Miller’s side job shows a different side to his passions.
Von Miller the… chicken farmer?
Von Miller has been outspoken about his other passion besides football — farming chickens. It is a passion that predates his NFL career, too.
In a world where many athletes destined for professional glory declare relevant majors to their sport in college, Miller majored in poultry science. Miller grew up in the country, although he claims that his passion for poultry didn’t start until he took a class in college early on.
One of his college professors inspired Miller to start his farm. Since then, his love for chickens has guided his career, and he even opened a chicken farm in California. “Chickens are dope,” Miller said to ESPN in 2016.
This doesn’t mean that Miller is simply putting his name on a giant chicken farm, either. According to ESPN, Miller has called his chicken coop in California, which stands about the size of a tennis court, his happy place. He does everything in his power to make sure that his chickens are treated properly and not just thrown together like major farms.
“I’m very passionate, especially when it comes to humanely raised chickens,” Miller said.
“I take pride in healthy birds. You got all these other big-time commercial farms that raise, you know, 30,000 birds. Me, it’s a whole lot smaller operation, but it’s a lot of bang for the buck”
Miller is hands-on with his chickens and uses his farm as catharsis away from the brutal game he plays. He doesn’t eat his chickens, although he admits to enjoying their eggs. He takes pride in learning all of his different chickens’ tendencies and prescribing personalities to each of them.
Many passions off the field
Von Miller may have many years left in the NFL, but professional careers end even for the best athletes. By securing himself a passion away from football, Miller is easing the tough transition from professional football player to a retiree.
Whether that passion leads him to expand his operation or simply devote his time to his birds because he loves them, Miller’s passion for chickens is more than talk.
As NFL players perform miraculous feats on the football field, it can be easy to forget that they are people with hobbies outside of work just like the rest of us. For Miller, this hobby is more than just an interest, it’s a whole separate life away from the spotlight, and that passion shows no signs of letting up, even 10 years after leaving college.