Von Miller may be as feared as any defensive player when he's on the field, with 30 sacks in 31 career NFL games.
But off the field, he's one of the NFL's quirkiest players.
The bespectacled blitzer, a Texas A&M product, speaks glowingly about poultry science and the chicken industry, can chug Gatorade faster than you, and enjoys sack dances enough to invent his own, the "Desoto Shuffle," named after his hometown in Texas.
Playbook spoke to Miller by phone, while he was in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. As part of the festivities, EA Sports pit Miller against 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, a longtime friend also from the Dallas area.
Miller discussed "Madden," his own personal Batmobile, and if he could sack Heisman Trophy winner and fellow Aggie Johnny Manziel (whom he also ran into in New Orleans).
How did your game shake out with Crabtree?
The game was getting out of hand. I think Von was on his way to a great win yesterday. I’m trying to stay neutral on the topic because [Crabtree is] not here to defend himself.
You’ve done interviews with us in the past about your favorite games. How much do you play?
If I’m not in the locker room with the guys playing the game, I’m playing video games 24/7. If I’m not playing “Madden,” “FIFA” or “Call of Duty,” I’m probably sleeping. I’m a big-time gamer. All the guys who come over and spend time with me, they become gamers too.
What’s your favorite play to utilize as yourself?
I like to blitz, because I play with the Denver Broncos. I like to get us in [a 4-3] “under” front. It’s a good run-stopping defense. My favorite player would be an "Edge Sting." I’m sending the sam linebacker, and the weak linebacker too. I’ve got the backside A and the frontside C gaps filled, so I think it’s a great play.
What kind of pass-rushing moves do you use?
I’m quick enough, I just get in there and get on the plays. They got me supercharged in here.
Are you going to be able to get the "DeSoto Shuffle" in the game next year?
They’ve been pretty accurate on everything that’s going on. Maybe a little too accurate when it comes to my stats. But I’m not doing any complaining. I think the way the game is going, the authenticity, the way they update the rosters weekly, I think that’s one of the great features of the game. It’s really the "33rd franchise," how authentic the information is that they have. It’s certified with a lot of players throughout the league.
You've been a very public supporter of Texas A&M. After this year's groundbreaking season in the SEC, what do you think is in store for the Aggies next year?
I think big things. We were one game away from really being into the national championship discussion. We did a great job with Alabama, and a great job all year. The losses -- LSU and Florida -- those were two tough losses that we easily could’ve won. We all know how up and down college football is. One year you can be great and the next year you could be terrible. I’m confident in Coach Sumlin and the guys we have down at A&M, and the great recruiting class we have coming in, that we’ll be all right.
Everybody’s getting caught in Johnny Manziel hysteria, and I've even seen John Fox refer to you as "Vonny Football." But the world wants to know: Could you sack Johnny Manziel?
I most definitely could sack Johnny Manziel.
Even if he used one his patented little spin moves at the last second?
Even with the spin move. He’d definitely be tough to get down. I think if I can get back there 10 times, I’m gonna get him at least once. I’d put my money on twice. But I know I’d get my hand on him. The guys I got on my team, we’d be able to corral him. As you can tell, he creates a lot of fits for college guys. He really does create a lot of problems for college guys and college coordinators. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that problem for at least three, four years.
You let people see into your life a little in the offseason on Instagram or Twitter, and sometimes you get worried fans replying to you. What do you think about all the attention Manziel is getting for going out or to games?
I don’t think there’s any other guy out there that is able to balance being a great teammate and a great guy off the field, and being a superstar along with everything that comes with winning the Heisman, and being able to perform. I don’t think that could’ve happened to a more mature guy, who’s ready to juggle being a superstar and a great teammate and a brother and a son. Of all the guys that this could’ve happened to, Johnny Manziel is one of the only guys that’s able to handle it and be able to carry it on a day-in and day-out basis.
Your glasses are one of your trademarks. What do you think about all the NBA players who started wearing them, some of them even without lenses?
[Laughs] I mean it’s not my "look." It’s just the look that I wear. Anybody can wear glasses. But there are a select few who can really pull it off, though.
You’re serious about them, though, and even started a charity along those lines.
Yeah, I have a foundation called Von’s Vision. The slogan is “you only get one pair.” I think eyes are very important and I don’t think we put enough emphasis on them with little kids. I hear “brush your teeth,” or “get a great night’s sleep.” But you don’t hear too many people promoting glasses and the importance of eyes, or protecting your eyes, and taking care of them now so they can be good for you for the rest of your life. The reason I went with Von’s Vision -- it wasn’t just a foundation I could put my name on and throw money at it. It’s something that I really felt connected to. I’ve been wearing glasses since the fifth grade. I know how hard it is to create an image and be yourself wearing glasses at a young age. Kids can wear all kinds of stuff and be super cruel. I just want to embrace it and let everybody know that it’s cool to wear glasses.
Do you ever hit Peyton Manning up for advice on doing commercials?
Oh, no I haven’t. I mean, I’ve just been watching him. Just seeing him on a Papa John’s commercial, or DirecTV commercials and everything he’s got, and to be able to come in the locker room and be the same Peyton Manning is probably one of the best nods that I could give to him. He’s a genuine guy. That’s just what I learn from him on a daily basis. How to be that superstar and be a great teammate at all times. I think he definitely does a great job.
Adidas made a special shoe for you this year. I know you’ve angled for your own shoe line. Has any linebacker had his own signature shoe?
I mean I know, right? I’m really trying to make it happen. With great power comes great responsibility, and I know it’s a huge responsibility to have an opportunity and take advantage of the ones I have now. I don’t ever want to overwater it. I just want to let it happen. I already have a tough job being an NFL linebacker. Getting a shoe, it’d be great. I only can control what I can control, and that’s playing Bronco football day in and day out.
Yeah, that was mine. It was a Camaro that I had customized. I had it widened out eight inches on both sides, and I just pretty much did everything you could possibly do to a Camaro. I put everything in the engine. It’s pushing about 540 horses to the rear wheels. True horses. Some people say they have a 700-horsepower car, but that might be true. But mine’s a true 540. It’s great. It’s a little obnoxious, so I don’t drive it every day. Probably once a week.
You're often wearing YMCMB gear [for the rap collective Young Money Cash Money Billionaires]. Why are you drawn to them?
I’ve always been a fan of Baby and Slim and Lil Wayne and all those guys. And to have an opportunity to be on the stage and meet guys like that, and they accept me. I mean it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I’m just running with it.