DECATUR — As marriages made in heaven go, it’s hard to imagine a better one than Duck Dynasty and Brit Miller.
No, they haven’t been to the altar yet, not the A&E Network reality show that centers on the wholesome but eccentric Robertson family and their Duck Commander empire, nor the free agent NFL fullback from Decatur who some would say was born for reality TV.
But they’re distant kissing cousins, their acquaintances made when Korie Robertson — wife of Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson — got a glimpse of Miller’s DPCTED Apparel line of T-shirts, several of which reference beards.
If you’re one of the record 9.6 million viewers who recently tuned into the Season 3 finale, you know that the Robertson men pride themselves on their redneck ways and long flowing beards.
So Miller’s T-shirts from his “Chubby Domination” line hit the bullesye when Korie Robertson noticed versions that said, “BEARDED GUYS CUDDLE BETTER,” and “MY BEARD JUST STARTED GROWING A BEARD,” and “BEARDED FOR YOUR PLEASURE.”
Contacts were made, information was exchanged and before long shirts were sent to all the Duck Dynasty guys in time for Christmas.
“And that’s kind of the deal that started it all,” Miller recalled this week as he completed his relocation from St. Louis back to Decatur.
Originally, Miller hoped he might find his way onto an episode of Duck Dynasty. A natural tie was football, since Duck Commander founder Phil Robertson — the patriarch of the family and the creator of the duck call that led to a multi-million dollar empire — was once a quarterback at Louisiana Tech, starting ahead of eventual four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw.
But they were wrapping up filming for the season and that didn’t work out.
However, in the overlap that happens when worlds collide, a Duck Dynasty producer knew of another venture that was looking for a professional athlete to use on an outdoors show starring former NBA center Brad Miller.
Stars aligned and a week ago Brit Miller and his brother-in-law, Nate Chandler, found themselves at Brad Miller’s private hunting lodge in northeast Indiana, there to stalk wild turkey with a shotgun.
“It ended up being one of the most fun weeks I’ve had,” Brit Miller said. “It was totally different.”
Miller said the show is tentatively targeted for early July on an endeavor called, “Country Boys Outdoors.”
Brit Miller admitted he was somewhat out of his element, although he was no rookie to hunting.
“I used to hunt with my grandfather, but all we did was deer hunt and that was in the fall and I was usually busy with football,” he said. “I found out the last time I had a hunting license was in 1999.”
Despite that, Miller stepped up and delivered.
“I was the first one to get a turkey,” he said. “But, of course, I told them I would be.”
Brit was surprised to find out that Brad Miller had built his lodge specifically to fit his 7-foot frame.
“Everything is made for what I would call a giant,” Brit said. “The island in the kitchen was made for a 7-footer. I went to lean on it and I could put my chin on it.
“I couldn’t even reach the towel rack. It was funny to experience that, but Brad was really cool. It took me back to my ‘Journey’ days at Illinois.”
Back when Brit Miller was a linebacker at the University of Illinois, he became a central figure in the Big Ten Networks’ own reality show, “The Journey,” which captured the Illini football team in behind-the-scenes looks.
That’s why more than one friend has told Brit he’s destined for a role in reality TV.
“The trouble with that is, I feel like everyone on reality TV is just waiting for some kind of downfall,” he said. “I don’t want to be that guy.”
What Miller does want is to extend his NFL career. He and his agent are optimistic.
“Now that the stuff with the draft and rookies is done, my agent thinks something positive will happen,” he said. “We’d rather be employed right now, but the trouble with the fullback position is that there’s only going to be one per team.
“Our feeling is that we’ll be picked up this summer when teams realize their guy isn’t going to be good enough. It just takes one phone call.”
So Miller keeps working out, waiting for that phone to ring.
It could be a very important call because he needs just one more NFL game to qualify for the league’s pension program. And since he’s getting married this summer, that would be a very big deal.
“I’d feel more secure for my family’s future,” he said. “It’s been a great run so far, but I don’t see it coming to an end just yet.”
Meanwhile, a call from the Robertson’s at Duck Dynasty would be nice, too. Miller senses there’s a connection.
Somehow, there’s a feeling Brit Miller and the show’s unpredictable Si Robertson are kindred souls.