Washington Redskins linebacker Matt Millen, who was known as well for his wry wit off the field as he was for his hard hits on it, ended his 12-year NFL career yesterday when he accepted a job as a CBS-TV analyst this fall.
"It came down to playing another year vs. getting started on something that could be more than one year, and that opening might not be there next year," Millen said, ex
plaining why he decided to retire as a player and take the CBS job.
Millen earned four Super Bowl rings with three teams -- the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers and the Redskins -- although he didn't put on a uniform during the playoffs last season because the Redskins played three teams with passing offenses. His specialty was playing the run.
Millen said not playing in the playoffs didn't affect his decision.
"I enjoyed practice, training camp, meetings and the game, of course. There wasn't a part of the game I didn't enjoy. But the thing I'll miss more than anything else is the physical competition. I loved going out there and whacking guys," he said.
If he can transfer the wit he showed in interviews to the analyst's job, he should be a TV natural. For example, when Millen was cut by the Raiders in 1989 and signed with the 49ers, the players constantly were being asked if they could win without coach Bill Walsh, who had just retired. "I've always won without Bill Walsh," Millen said in a deadpan voice.
Millen played his college ball at Penn State, where his free-spirited ways weren't always appreciated by coach Joe Paterno. He found a natural home with the wild and crazy Raiders, although he avoided the drug and steroid scene that may have contributed to the deaths of teammates John Matuszak and Lyle Alzado.
"I went through an era of that whole drug scene -- heavy cocaine use, heavy steroids, basic physical abuse, a lot of bennies, a lot of uppers, all kinds of stuff [although] I wasn't a part of that in itself," he said.
He added, "There's a lot of stories that have never been told." He declined to elaborate.
Millen said things have changed in recent years because of the league's crackdown on drugs. "You never see drugs anymore," he said.