Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller is one of the best players in the NFL—with five Pro Bowls, five All-Pro teams, and a Super Bowl MVP to his name—and he’s also one of the most food conscious. Miller joined House of Carbs this week to discuss his Texas chicken farm, how his diet has evolved since college, and which restaurant is his favorite to visit on the road.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
On Chicken Farming and Planning for a Future Away From the NFL
Joe House: Your football résumé is unparalleled, but I’m having you on House of Carbs today because I want to talk about, among other things, chicken. I know that you have a deep and long relationship with chicken, going all the way back at least to your college days, when you majored in poultry science at Texas A&M. Where did your interest in chicken come from?
Von Miller: Honestly, I can’t say. I mean, I’m from Dallas, Texas. I’ve always been from the country and stuff, but I can’t say that when I was growing up I was like, “One of these days, I'm gonna raise chickens.” It never was really a dream of mine, until I got to college and was introduced to it. Texas A&M, it’s an agricultural and mechanical school. They have a lot of [agricultural] classes to take, and, my freshman year, [I took] an elective and it was meat production. I can’t even lie, I thought that class was an easy class. I’m a freshman, let me go ahead and get this easy A. ... And I used to fall asleep every day, and my professor just wasn’t having it. You can imagine—a room full of 50 students, and he’s waking me up every single day. He made a point [that] every single day, he’d make sure that he asked me questions. He’d make sure that I was awake. … I started to listen to [my professor], and when you start talking about the numbers, and what it takes to be a chicken farmer, I became really interested in it. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry. Chicken and meat production are never going to go away.
House: So you were thinking at that early stage about your post-football career. Do you think that’s going to be the main thing that you do?
Miller: I always knew I was gonna play in the National Football League, but ... I was thinking about me and my future, and my children’s future. So that’s where it came from for me. ... You’ve got chicken farmers that have been doing it for 100 years now, and they have so many loans and so many other things to take care of where they just really can’t focus on profit. Every single dollar they make goes somewhere else. And you know, you take out a loan for the chicken houses and you gotta do this and do that. Well for me, it’d be a whole lot easier than that. I don’t have to take out a huge loan to pay back. ...
I’ve got a small farm at home. It’s not a commercial operation, but I have signed a contract for a commercial operation in Texas that will probably be going in the end of 2018, 2019. … It took me a little bit to really figure it out and get the numbers straight, because whenever [it’s] something that you’re going to have for the rest of your life, you’ve gotta make sure it’s perfect. This is a big deal for me.
House: So you’re raising chickens down there. How many do you have in the coop at the moment?
Miller: I’ve got about 60 birds at home, at my house in Dallas right now.
House: And who’s taking care of them when you’re up in Denver?
Miller: Every single drop of information that I have learned I have given to my mom and my dad and my little brother, so they are my colleagues right now.
How Miller’s Diet Has Changed Since Entering the NFL
House: There was obviously a transition from kind of a college diet into your professional career—the diet you would have. Was there a eureka moment when it kind of blossomed for you in terms of what you might have eaten in college, and how you had to take care of yourself in the pros?
Miller: My eureka moment was when I got into the National Football League, my first three years I was eating just like I was in college. And I was like, “Hey, I’m still getting the same kind of success. If I’m playing great on the football field, if I’m still playing on a high level, then why change anything?” And I had an injury. I had torn my ACL, and whenever you have an injury like that you just sit back and all you can do is think. So I was reprogramming my whole entire life. I was thinking about what could I have done better, what could I have done different. And I was like, for me to get ahead and for me to take my game to the next level, I need to get a chef. And I got a chef, and it started off with just three days out of the week and the other four days I would just figure something out. I started to feel a lot better and as the year went on, I was like, “I’m gonna hire my chef full-time to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.” And my body started to change, I started to think [more clearly]. And, boom, here we are today. …
House: You reminded me while you were telling that, a little bit of the stories that came out recently about, “How has Tom Brady been able to stick around for as long as he has, 40 years old, still playing quarterback?” And a big part of those stories was with his diet. Have you had a chance to compare notes with Tom at all?
Miller: No, I haven’t, but when I saw his diet I was like, “OK, that’s right along with the type of stuff I do.” I know he doesn’t eat beef or anything like that. I still eat beef, I still eat steak. It’s just where I get the beef from. It’s always organic, and natural, and grass-fed.
Miller’s Favorite Place to Eat on the Road
House: You’ve been in the league now enough years to have been to a whole bunch of different NFL cities. Do you ever eat out when you’re on the road?
Miller: Yeah, sometimes we [go out to] dinner. You just gotta make the best of what you have. If I go to a steakhouse, you don’t really have to go crazy in that one day. You can only control what you can control. When we’re on the road, I go out to eat with my guys. I can’t bring my chef with me. I can’t bring meals with me. So whenever I’m on the road with the guys, I can look at the menu and I’m just programmed now to just say, “I like that. I wanna substitute this with that.” After a while, the habit becomes a lifestyle. I’ve been doing it for so long now that I can just look at a menu and say, “OK, I can eat this.”
House: In your experiences on the road, have you found a particular city where you know, going into that city, you’re excited to get to a particular restaurant there?
Miller: L.A. I like L.A. I like Erewhon in L.A. Erewhon is like a farmer’s market, and everything that you cook there is healthy. Every single thing that you pick up in Erewhon is great for you. ... Erewhon is always right at the top of my mind whenever I’m in L.A. L.A. has a lot of choices. You can only be as good as your choices and the environment you’re in, and L.A. has the environment for everybody when it comes to nutritious food.
House: Well, you now have occasion to get to L.A. every year with the Chargers moving up from San Diego. That’s got to be a nice turn of events in terms of the food aspect of things.
Miller: I don’t really have a lot of time [in the season] to go all the way over to Hollywood to make it to Erewhon. But I’m always in L.A. in the offseason, and whenever I’m there, I’m eating at Erewhon. And I’ve been to so many cities, and I’ve been working with chefs in every single city, so I have a go-to chef in every single city that I visit all the time. In Miami I have a chef, in Houston I have a chef. L.A., San Francisco—that way I’m not bringing my stuff from Denver all across the nation. I just got a guy or a lady there that can make it happen for me.