Detroit Lions Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders explains his thoughts on Kerryon Johnson and the Lions offense at the Super Bowl, Feb. 1, 2019 in Atlanta.
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
There’s some good news on football’s biggest day.
Former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen, who had a much-needed heart transplant in the early hours of Christmas Eve, is apparently doing well health-wise.
The East Bay Times caught up with Millen, a linebacker on four Super Bowl championship teams, and reports that Millen is “feeling pretty good.”
“Working out, doing what I’m supposed to do. Back in the woodshop. Back in the weight room, on the elliptical. I started walking the hill behind my house. I’m going to get that thing conquered here sooner or later,” Millen said to the Times.
Millen was suffering from amyloidosis, an incurable disease that has been treated with chemotherapy, in 2017 after years of experiencing symptoms. The ailment attacked the lining of his heart. Millen, a game analyst for the Big Ten Network, stepped away from those duties in October to focus on his health.
But a couple of days before Christmas, a donor was found and the surgery was scheduled.
“They keep it very simple,” Millen told the East Bay Times of the donor. “I know it was a `he.’ He’s 26 and out of state. I know he was 6-foot-2, 180 pounds maybe. That was an important piece because they had to get the same size donor.”
Millen said after the surgery, which went about 4 hours, he was up and walking around the next day.
After his All-American college career at Penn State and 12 seasons in the NFL, Millen retired and became the No. 2 NFL game analyst, first with CBS and then Fox in the 1990s.
He was hired by the Lions in 2001 to help turn around the struggling franchise, but instead he oversaw a 31-84 record over his eight seasons. Fans began calling for him to be fired, which is what happened in 2008, as the team headed for the first 0-16 finish in NFL history.
Since then, he returned to TV. But as he told NBC Sports’ Peter King, Millen feels as if he’s around to do more than breaking down plays on Saturdays.
“I have not been spared for nothing,” Millen said. “I feel like I have more of a purpose now — I just have to find out what it is. I’ve got to figure out what my Holy Grail is for the rest of my life. I can’t waste this opportunity.”