Matt Millen, who has been a memorable part of the football landscape as a linebacker, general manager and announcer for decades, is battling a rare disease and has been told he’ll need a heart transplant according to a report from the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.
The Morning Call’s Mark Wogenrich reported that Millen has amyloidosis, which has robbed his heart of most of its normal function. The paper said Millen, 60, has undergone chemotherapy almost weekly for eight months. The story also said doctors have told Millen he needs a heart transplant. The Morning Call said Millen had symptoms for six years, but was only diagnosed last summer. By the time it was diagnosed, his heart had deteriorated to a point he needed a transplant.
Millen has had a memorable football career, and most notable might have been his stint as general manager of the Detroit Lions, which led to endless jokes and countless “Fire Millen” signs, and eventually an 0-16 season. If you’ve seen interviews with Millen, like the NFL’s “A Football Life” episode on him, you know that he doesn’t hide from what happened in Detroit and laughs along with all the jokes. His upbeat attitude is still on display as he fights this illness.
“While I’m still up on this side,” Millen told the Morning Call, “I’ll enjoy everything.”
Millen has still continued to work in the broadcast booth, including Penn State’s spring game for Big Ten Network, and the Morning Call said he plans to be broadcasting in the fall. Millen had a tremendous career, first at Penn State and then 12 NFL seasons with the Raiders, Redskins and 49ers, collecting four Super Bowl rings. Then he became a broadcaster, rising to Fox’s No. 2 NFL team with play-by-play man Dick Stockton, and that led to his shot at running the Lions’ front office. He got back into broadcasting when that mercifully ended.
The Morning Call said Millen and his wife Pat are sharing his story to raise awareness of amyloidosis, which is when abnormal proteins called amyloids build up in organs or tissue (Millen needs chemotherapy to reduce his body’s amyloid production).
“I look over my life, and it’s been a storybook,” Millen told the Morning Call. “I have an awesome family, a phenomenal wife, and you can’t ask for more.
“So you’re not supposed to take the good with the bad? When a bump comes up in the road, you deal with it. It’s ridiculous to feel sorry for yourself. I’m thankful for what I have, and I’ll take what I get.”
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