The various aspects of the life of former Penn State defensive tackle and long-time NFL linebacker Matt Millen are examined Tuesday night when the NFL Network presents “Matt Millen: A Football Life” at 10 p.m.
Millen reviews his turbulent 1979 pre-season as a senior at Penn State when coach Joe Paterno threw him off the team after he protested about participating in a half-mile conditioning run.
“Joe’s screaming at me and I said, ‘If I’ve got to chase a guy for a half-mile, he’s going to score every time,’” Millen recalled. “All the guys are laughing, and Joe lost it. He kicked me off the team. That made me learn not to be selfish because the team’s more important. That was a valuable lesson to learn, and I learned it the hard way.”
Millen was reinstated to the team and eventually was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 1980 NFL draft. He and Paterno remained close friends until the coach’s death in January 2012.
Millen also related the story of when All-Pro defensive tackle Randy White came to his high school to recruit him for Maryland. He wound up challenging White to an arm-wrestling match.
Millen said he had White’s arm halfway down and began taunting him, telling White, “A high school kid is beating him.” White then reversed the contest.
“Boom, he almost broke my arm,” Millen said. “He threw my arm over so quick.”
The show describes Millen’s four Super Bowl titles – two with Oakland, one with San Francisco and one with Washington – and his first venture into broadcasting. It also deals with his failure as president and CEO of the Detroit Lions from 2001 to 2008, where he won just 31 of 115 games, according to the program.
Millen, who will work Saturday night’s game between Penn State and Michigan for ESPN, is scheduled to be interviewed in the NFL Network studio after the video is shown.