ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos’ No. 1 turnover machine can’t even get his name pronounced properly around the country.
Jay-Quan MacMillan, is how to pronounce Denver’s defensive playmaker’s name.
Learn how to say it.
Or, actually, according to him, you don’t need to learn how to say his name properly. He doesn’t care.
Despite a diving interception on Patrick Mahomes the game before, when the Broncos took on the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, the Monday Night Football crew pronounced Ja’Quan McMillian’s last name as “McMillion.” The 23-year old wasn’t bothered by it one bit, however.
“I’ve heard worse, honestly. I kind of like the nickname,” he said on Monday, talking to the media after the Broncos’ 21-20 win over the Vikings on Sunday. “It a funny story, my dad used to say it all the time — ‘McMillion,’ when I was growing up. Just hearing them say it on the TV just brought back memories of my dad.”
“I went back and watched the television copy of the game and heard them say it. I thought it was funny though,” he continued. “They called me the wrong last name, but, like I said, it’s a great memory of my dad. I just thought it was funny.”
McMillion is a fitting name to call the Broncos’ second-year playmaker as he’s been money for Denver’s defense.
McMillian has only played in 48 percent of the Broncos’ defensive snaps. Yet he’s tied with Justin Simmons, who has played in 78 percent of the total defensive snaps this year, for being responsible for the most takeaways on the team.
“There are certain players, and the ball finds them. He seems to have some of those traits,” Sean Payton explained on Monday morning. “[I’m] proud of how he’s played and how he’s worked. His enthusiasm is kind of contagious, and I think he’s brought a lot to the defense.”
McMillian has brought a lot to the Broncos’ defense, while taking away a lot from the opposing team’s offense.
The Broncos’ rising young star has two interceptions, including one on Mahomes, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. On the season, Denver’s 19 takeaways is the second-most in the NFL. McMillian has had a hand in over 25 percent of them.
“When you’re doing stuff right and doing your job, the ball is going to find you. The football Gods are going to bless you,” McMillian explained. “I just try to keep do it how I’m supposed to do, do my job and the plays will come… Do what the coaches ask me to do and they are going to put me in the right position every time and the ball is going to continue to find me.”
Creating turnovers is nothing new for the 5-foot-10, 183-pound cornerback.
At East Carolina, McMillian racked up 12 interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and 28 passes defended during his three years. His 16 passes defended in 2021 was the second-most in the entire country.
That’s why Ja’Quan isn’t surprised he’s forcing turnovers and making plays in the NFL.
“I’ve done it throughout my career,” he stated, when asked if he’s surprised by his early success in the NFL. “It’s just the timing. Just keep working and doing my job. I always tell myself if I do my job, I know that the plays will come to me. It’s not surprising. I’ve done it at every level. Doing it at this level, at the big stages, it’s a blessing. I just got to keep doing what I’m doing and keep doing my job.”
After recovering the fumble on the third play of the game on Sunday Night Football against the Vikings, McMillian became the first Bronco since Von Miller in 2015 to have fumble recoveries in back-to-back games.
“Playing smart, playing fast, playing physical and good things are going to happen for you in the game,” he stated.
In the Broncos’ four-game win streak, Denver has forced a whopping 13 takeaways, with 12 in their last three games. McMillian has been responsible for four of those 12.
One stands out amongst the rest in his mind. And it’s not the diving interception against Mahomes.
“The strip fumble in the first play of the [Bills] game,” he said without thinking twice. “It was my dad’s birthday that same day. I’m going to remember that moment forever. That’s probably my favorite moment.”
McMillian has certainly made his Dad proud as he’s establishing himself as one of the NFL’s top defensive playmakers.
While Cris Collinsworth and Mike Tirico pronounced his last name properly on Sunday Night Football, the mispronounced version of ‘McMillion’ has caught steam in Denver’s locker room.
“They are calling me McMillion, Jay-Mac. They always call me Jay-Mac, but ever since they heard it on TV, everyone’s been calling me McMillion,” he said, with a smile that could be heard through the audio interview. “All the guys are calling me that in the building now. It’s a nice nickname to have.”
Even though it wasn’t intentional, the Broncos’ turnover machine has rightfully earned the McMillion nickname as he’s been money in Denver’s four-game win streak.