ORLANDO, Fla.--Josh Miller wasn’t looking to start a business, it was an accident. The former National Football League punter, who starred with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots, ended up as the inventor of a putting aid because of his son. “My seven-year-old couldn’t putt to save his life,” said Miller, who exhibited his product, The Wheel Deal, at the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show. “He could do everything else. I was helping him with his Legos, was working on one of the tires and instantly, it was like, Hey, I think I’m on to something. Sadly, I broke his car but I got him a new one. I went to Home Depot and came up with something that taught him how to keep the tire and the putter on the ground, because he wanted to keep lifting the club up.”
Miller’s idea is a strange-looking attachment. It’s a wheel at the end of a crooked arm that hooks onto the putter shaft. The idea is to drag the putter away from the ball on the backstroke, causing the wheel (a rubber tire) to roll. The angle of the wheel is adjustable for the putter’s lie, and works for players who use a square-to-square stroke or an open-and-closed (swinging gate) stroke. I picked it up and immediately discovered that I, like Miller’s son, tend to pick the putter up instead of sliding of back.
“I’ve talked to Dave Stockton and Loren Roberts, two guys known for their putting, and when they saw this, they both said, 'That’s exactly how I teach kids—low and slow,'” Miller said. “It’s nothing special, really, but in the training aid world, you’d better have something that looks kind of cool and doesn’t make you look like an idiot.”
Miller succeeded in a unique look for Wheel Deal, just like he succeeded in football. He’s one of an elite few who played on Grey Cup and Super Bowl champions. Miller led the Canadian Football League in punting both years he played for the Baltimore Stallions (1995-’96), then ended up with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played from 1997 through 2003. After that, he punted for the New England Patriots and played in their Super Bowl win over the Eagles. He was also briefly on the roster of the Tennessee Titans, who waived quarterback Chris Simms to add him to the team in a preseason move, then waived Miller when the re-signed Simms a few days later.
“I wasn’t looking to get into the golf business, I was just trying to fix my son’s stroke,” he said. “A couple of club pros in Jupiter, Fla., saw my wheel and said I should do something with it. My playbook was always pretty thin—I just played football. I did all right in football, but I didn’t have to know much.”
You can find Miller’s wheel online at the website www.BuytheWheelDeal.com. It retails for $59.
Miller still resides in the Pittsburgh area and no, he’s not out punting footballs in his backyard for fun. “The last time I touched a football, it was only because I tripped on one in the garage the other day,” Miller said. “I’m done. I do some radio work. I don’t miss playing but I miss the locker room. There aren’t many places you can make fun of a guy who’s 6-feet-6, 390, and he won’t kill you.”
(Photo: David Walberg/SI)