Von Miller’s obsession with playing “Call of Duty” comes down to one thing: competition.
“As athletes, we compete over everything, and a game like ‘Call of Duty’ is about as competitive as it gets,” Miller says when I ask about his favorite shoot-'em-up gaming franchise. “With the competitive aspect of the game, you can be down a couple of kills and you just want to come back. That’s what draws all athletes to ‘Call of Duty.’ There is just so much competitive spirit involved.”
Miller and his Denver Broncos teammates claim to be online firing virtual shots at each other all the time, with Miller preferring smaller assault weapons to the bigger sniper rifles.
“I like those compact sub-machine guns,” Miller says. “Pretty much everyone on the team plays, so it’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of time on our hands, and playing ‘Call of Duty’ is just what we do.
“When it comes to skills, I’m probably pretty average. Champ Bailey is the best at the game by far. I can definitely play a lot better, but I have to say, I like to sneak up behind Champ and get that buzz kill. He’s always on a roll, so you know when you get Champ, you’re having a good game.”
ESPN Playbook: With “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” coming out in a few weeks, what would you like to see added to the franchise that maybe they’ve been missing out in years past?
Von Miller: From what I’ve seen in the trailers, it looks like they really hit it on the head in terms of adding all of the futuristic weapons. [The game is based in 2025.] That was the only thing that was missing before. They always had great weapons before, weapons that boggled your mind and made you wonder if they really had this in real life, but after watching the trailers, it looks like the new weapons are really going to be great.
So months before the games come out, are you up on YouTube checking out the previews and trailers?
Oh yeah, all the time. Whenever there’s a new game trailer, I’m always on top of it to see what’s coming out next.
Beyond “Call of Duty,” are you a big gamer?
I’m a huge video game player. I love “FIFA” and “Madden,” of course. I’m really big into “NBA 2K13” right now. I’m into all of the games, from basketball to “FIFA.” Everybody plays “FIFA.” Sure, there are guys on the team that love “Madden,” but what people might not realize is “FIFA” has the biggest online community out there, and “2K13” might be second. I play games all day.
I just interviewed DeSean Jackson, and he was pretty devastated about the Thunder trading James Harden because he liked to play as them in “2K13.” He didn’t want the roster update.
I just got the latest roster update, and the Rockets are pretty nice in the game with Harden and Jeremy Lin. That’s actually who I’m playing as right now. I’m a huge basketball fan, and I didn’t want to see James Harden leave, either, but I think he deserves his starting spot on the Houston Rockets.
Aside from video games, do you consider yourself a techie?
Most definitely. I got a couple of iPads, I got the iPhone 5, a couple of iPhone 4s. Pretty much everything new that comes out, I try to stay on top of it.
What’s your favorite tech gadget?
The iPhone 5 is really nice. It feels a lot lighter in your hand, and I’ve already dropped it a couple of times, and when you drop it, it doesn’t feel like it’s the end of the world. It’s a well-put-together phone. The iPhone 4 was great, but I love the 5 and the longer screen.
Do you have a favorite app?
Urbanspoon is my favorite app. It’s a restaurant app, and when you shake it up, it shows your location, then randomizes some different restaurant options that are around you. You can pick from five-star all the way down to fast food. It’s great because I like to eat a lot, but I don’t like to eat the same things, so I just hit that Urbanspoon app and it pretty much finds a spot for me to go.
You talked earlier about being a big gamer. When did your video game obsession start?
Old Super Nintendo “Tecmo Super Bowl.” From day one, my mom and dad always made sure that me and my little brother had the latest video games, and I applaud them for that, because a lot of times parents don’t give their kids that opportunity, but we always had the latest video games. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
What’s your favorite old-school game?
"Contra" was the best. I remember playing the old game on multiplayer, and you could put in that cheat code for unlimited lives, and you could run through that whole video game in like two hours. It’s crazy to think about how "Contra" was like the height of technology back then, and now looking at what they’re doing in “Call of Duty,” it’s amazing what you can do in 20 years. What’s it going to be like 20 years from now? I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sort of simulator in your living room where it’s like you’re living in the game or something. It’s crazy to even think about where video games might be headed.
So what’s the longest you ever sat and played “Call of Duty” online in one sitting?
I play for about four hours. That’s the most I’ll ever play.
You say that the majority of Broncos play. Have you ever seen Peyton Manning out there sniping you in the game?
No, I’ve never played with Peyton Manning.
Think you can convince him to get on the battlefield?
So what type of “Call of Duty” player are you? Sniper? Camper? Or do you just run around crazy and knife people?
I camp sometimes just because I don’t like to get killed all the time. [laughs] When you’re on there with people who like to talk a lot of trash, I might camp a bit just to get some kills in and get my average up. I like to get in there and do the dirty work, too, so I can get on one of those kill streaks. You can’t get those kill streaks unless you’re out there really getting it, so I like to change my game up as I play.
It sounds like you’re a lot more intense on the NFL field than in the “Call of Duty” battlefields? I never saw you camp on defense.
No, sir. [laughs] No camping in the NFL.