TAMPA, Fla. -- Ready or not, America, here comes Matt Millen. NBC's television talent met the press on Tuesday and were barraged with questions about the former Lions GM, who is part of the network's Super Bowl coverage.
Most were along the lines of "Matt Millen? Seriously?"
NBC deserves the flak -- not for choosing Millen, who has proven chops as an analyst -- but for its timing. They couldn't wait until the Lions won at least one game to bring him on?
Millen was part of NBC's coverage in the wild-card round, and as he broke down the X's and O's of the various games, I kept picturing Detroit quarterback Dan Orlovsky running out of the back of the end zone. Nothing Millen says will register with anyone, because he's the face of the Lions' 0-16 season, even though the team let him go back in September.
Millen's NBC cohorts rallied around their fellow broadcaster like players protecting a teammate, noting his experience in the booth and his exposure to the league as a player and an excecutive. "What you're looking for is someone to tell you something you don't know," Cris Collinsworth said. "With Matt Millen, he got a peak behind the curtain."
Before Millen took the Lions' job, he was on his way to becoming the next John Madden. And he could be again some day, but he needs some time for everyone to forget his days in Detroit. Millen would have been best served covering games next season, in a lower-profile position. That would have helped America remember why he was popular as a broadcaster.
But Madden, who is a huge Millen fan, can't wait for his return to TV. "Just because the Lions were 0-16 doesn't make him less of a man," Madden said. "What's he supposed to do, hide under a rock?"
Um, yeah. I would want him to hide under a rock. A big rock. That's what you do when your team sets a record for NFL futility.
Check SI.com's Super Blog regularly for more dispatches from Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.