It was a stunning sight. Matt Millen on NBC's Football Night In America, in between Jerome Bettis and Bob Costas. Millen providing reactions, commentary, analysis . . . like nothing ever happened. It was breathtaking, mind-boggling, even. For eight years, Matt Millen had been a headshot on a website, a quote on Mlive.com, a figurehead. Millen became the focal point of all pro-Lions propaganda, and the rallying cry of all anti-Lions dissention. Matt Millen became, for Lions fans, the Mao Tse Tung of the Twenty-Aughts Detroit Lions: someone who we felt like we knew intimiately, yet never saw or heard. Trusted with the leadership of that which we hold so dear, and yet simultaneously the source of all of our misery. Permanently ensconced in the Forbidden City (Allen Park), Millen was the target of protests, demonstrations, and public effigy-burnings. "Fire Millen" became both the rallying cry and watchword for rebellious Lions fans. Millen's secret police tried to quell the uprising, but eventually the world at large heard of our plight. Millen's many disastrous failures were at first sold to the public as great successes. But even once the failures of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were apparent, Millen still could not be deposed. No matter the public outcry, or the obvious failures in management, Millen's hold on the Presidency of the Lions was absolute. Only when the Emperor's son spoke out against Millen, was Millen's hold on the Lions finally released.
And yet . . . the man whose face had been seen only in newspapers and bumper stickers was on my TV tonight. He was breaking down the game, offering opinions and insight, and even affably talking about his days at the helm of the Lions. It was clear--and in fact, it's already been suggested by profootballtalk.com that Millen has merely picked up where he left off: as the heir apparent to John Madden. What I don't get is, how can Millen maintain his credibility? My inner response to almost all of his analysis was, "How in the hell would you know?!?", or "Who cares what you think? 0-16!!". Is this the result of being a Lions fan, or will this be the national response as well?
Moreover, what if he proves to be--as he once was--really, really good in front of a camera? If he returns to being a standout analyst and/or broadcaster, will that pull the curtain back on modern football analysis? Will fans finally realize the gaping chasm that exists between the senseless yammering that goes on on sounstages in NYC and Hartford and what is really happening in the Allen Parks of this NFL world? That being able to talk pigskin with aplomb and elan does not a great business man, manager, or talent evaluator make?
Eh, probably not. Chris Collinsworth for President, CEO, GM, head coach, and concessions manager!!!