Millen hiding behind camera
He owes Lions fans explanation for his role on 0-16 season
BY DREW SHARP • FREE PRESS COLUMNIST • JANUARY 4, 2009
Matt Millen doesn’t get off the hook that easily.
NBC should insist that the erstwhile Lions chief executive wear an 0-16 stamp on his forehead for future network appearances. It should introduce a segment for its three-day Super Bowl pregame show, “How to Build an NFL Door Matt with Matt Millen.”
Here’s a novel concept. Why not demand that Millen do his job as a studio analyst? His role as a “football expert” is to explain what occurs beyond the range of public eyes, breaking down what went right and what went wrong with simple clarity.
But when he broke his public silence Saturday during the network’s “Football Night in America” show, he told NBC’s Dan Patrick that it wasn’t as easy as merely blaming himself.
“There’s a lot more to it than that,” Millen told Patrick. “I could give you excuses. I could give you reasons. To me, that’s just an excuse after the fact. You take the hit and move on.”
Millen blew it again. Detroit deserves a detailed explanation for what went so horribly wrong from those who perpetrated the deed. Simply saying that you’re responsible for the disaster doesn’t make you accountable. That requires serving a penance. If Millen truly seeks atonement, he must delve deeper into those additional “reasons” of which he spoke.
Was there a lack of uniformity between Millen and his front office, Millen and his coaches? Was there an even greater lack of organizational confidence within the locker room than what already has been documented? Did ownership interfere even more than what already has been reported?
I’m really tired of the Lions’ “There’s nothing more to say” defense regarding past failures.
Coach Rod Marinelli tried it during his farewell. It didn’t work.
Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew tried it during their introduction. It didn’t work.
Millen tried it in his nationally televised mea culpa. It really didn’t work.
Millen remained in seclusion on his Pennsylvania farm following his firing Sept.24, never returning phone calls from local media. But he called NBC back when the network approached him about returning to the television studio.
A network spokesman said Saturday that NBC kept Millen’s playoff pregame appearance under wraps until the last instant. Millen apparently was worried that, with enough advanced notice, there might be a flock of Detroit reporters waiting for his inevitable exit at the doorsteps at Rockefeller Center in New York.
He sounded subdued, certainly not the gregarious sort that endeared him to television viewers during his days as Fox’s No. 2 game analyst. How can anybody watching him not crack up laughing? Millen’s 31-84 record (not counting the other 13 losses after his dismissal) as president hardly makes him a credible voice when questioning another team’s decision making.
If he ever says that a team needs a wide receiver, Bob Costas’ immediate retort should be “Well, you ought to know about that Matt since you drafted one in the first round three straight years. By the way, Matt, how many of those guys are still in football?”
Millen: “Charles Rogers is starting now for his prison team, Bob. And Mike Williams is a third alternate on the Jenny Craig Pro Bowl team.”
Cue the rim shot.
Millen will turn his Detroit experiences into a joke. He’ll smile through his misery knowing that he already has collected $38 million for those 31 wins and is still owed $12 million from William Clay Ford Sr. for the final 2 1/2 years on that five-year contract extension.
Laugh, clown, laugh.
But it’ll only ratchet up the local anger even more that Millen, who once openly questioned the toughness of one his players, didn’t have the guts to stand before his harshest critics one final time as Marinelli did just hours after the Lions fired him last Monday.
Millen instead hid behind the plumage of the peacock.