Ed Note: With Election Day just under two weeks away, we want to fully prepare you for the most important race of 2012. No, not that Presidential thing or whatever it is, AA's Decision 2012! Besides, whoever your candidate of choice is, we can all agree Craig James is worse. But, is the Senator-to-be a strong enough candidate for AA's Mount Rushmore to hold off the challenges of Skip Bayless, Matt Millen, and Chris Berman? With such a tough vote on the horizon, we asked some influential bloggers from around the sports world to give an endorsement for their candidate of choice and reasons why you should vote for them November 6th to be immortalized on AA's Mount Rushmore. Today, Josh Zerkle, Bleacher Report's Lead National NFL Writer, commemorates our current runaway Pammies leader – Matt Millen.
Matt Millen is worthless. But you knew this already.
You probably also knew that Millen was one of the finest linebackers that the NFL had in the 1980s, and if you didn't, his four Super Bowl rings would serve as a suitable annotation for his career on the field. Off the field, however, was a different story.
You surely also know that Millen left the Redskins to join the CBS broadcast team in 1992, a tough decision for the 34-year-old that many believed could have played a thirteenth NFL season. But Millen was good in front of the camera, he brought a candid style and concise delivery to the booth, and later the studio.
But Millen would make another tough decision in 2001 when he was offered the job of CEO (and de facto GM) by the Detroit Lions. Millen, with no ties to the Detroit area and no front office experience, accepted.
What followed in Detroit was an era of ineptitude, an absolute dark age, even for one of four NFL franchises that has never been to a Super Bowl. How such a constellation of failure aligned itself is anyone's guess. For seven years this was endured, and only in 2008 would Millen be eventually relieved of his duties. The Lions faithful, who would watch their team complete only the second winless season in NFL history, were also relieved.
Millen seemed to forget his Motor City malaise almost instantly (as did the rest of network television) and would find himself back in the studio in January. In his first appearance back, he publicly assumed responsibility for his front office failure, overseeing a team that didn't have a single winning season under his watch. And then he went back to calling games as if nothing had ever happened.
Does that bother you like it still bothers me?
I'm not saying that any capable analyst should be able to run a front office team. That's silly. But isn't the idea that a single act of contrition can wash away a decade of failure… almost vulgar? And is it decent that such a guy could be passed off as an expert in a field where his latest undertaking was, and I'm being polite here, catastrophic?
It's disgusting in some ways. And that disgust should not just emanate from Lions fans, but from any football fan stuck listening to a fraud who made his name synonymous with failure. Matt Millen is no longer credible as an expert on football matters. He spent seven seasons proving that fact.
And don't even get me started on ESPN trotting him out to be an objective voice on the Jerry Sandusky scandal. That was vulgar.
But are Millen's mustachioed mishaps enough to dispel the incumbent? There's an argument to make for Craig James staying on the banner. While Millen occasionally can be insightful (occasionally, I said), James' commentary was dull, benign, and a detriment to any broadcast he happened to be doing. He's like Dan Fouts with a clean shave, only Fouts never thought enough of himself to run for Senate. To the contrary, I can imagine Fouts signing off after each of his AFC games, waiting for the red light on the camera dim, and quietly fist-pumping like a 9-year-old that convinced his parents that he was too sick to go to school. "Good job, Danno," I envision him saying to himself. "Fooled 'em again!"
To clarify, James is an arrogant ass of the highest order, an ass that transcends not only college football, but possibly even the medium of television itself. And, more importantly, I hate him. But his run of relevance appears to be at an end. His tenure with ESPN is through, and like single-bar facemasks and kickoffs from the 30, it seems unlikely to be reprised. To remove him from the renowned AA banner seems to be a fitting denoument for a career we're all too eager to forget.
That quartile of the masthead seems much better spent celebrating the infamy of a notably bad player-turned-broadcaster-turned-GM-turned-broadcaster, if only as a reminder that not all awful announcing is derived simply from the announcing. He's earned it. He needs it, as do we. For if Matt Millen's rampant fraudulence of expertise doesn't deserve recognition on the living archive of infamy on this fine site, then at least his laughable career arc does. And with that arc trending downward, we can only hope that his on-air visibility follows suit.