Former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen, who had stepped away from his TV job in October to focus on his health, received a heart donation and transplant a day before Christmas, according to a longtime NFL reporter.
“He is out of surgery, and his wife, Pat, tells me the doctors told her it was a good match,” NBCSports.com sportswriter Peter King tweeted at about 9 a.m. Monday “Surgery was a success.”
Millen, 60, who has a rare disease that attacks the lining of the heart, was told Sunday afternoon that a match had been found and was set to undergo surgery at 1 a.m. Monday in New Jersey, King reported.
King, who wrote that he had spoken to Millen on Sunday, said the former NFL linebacker and executive asked King to tell anyone rooting for him that he would use their prayers.
“Tell ‘em to pray,” Millen said. “I’ll need it.”
Millen was diagnosed with amyloidosis, an incurable disease that has been treated with chemotherapy, in 2017 after years of experiencing symptoms. Since then, King has reported that Millen has been upbeat.
An All-American linebacker at Penn State, Millen went on to win four Super Bowls during his 12 seasons in the NFL. After his retirement from the field, he was a TV announcer in the 1990s, first with CBS and then with Fox.
He was hired by Lions in 2001 to help turn the team around, but instead, fans began calling for him to be fired, which he was in 2008, as the team was headed for a 0-16 season.
In fairness, when Millen met then-Lions owner William Clay Ford in 2000 to discuss the job, he reportedly said, “Mr. Ford, I really appreciate this, but I’m not qualified,” in response, Ford replied, “You’re smart. You’ll figure it out.”
In 2009, Millen was named an analyst for the NFL Network, and a color analyst for ESPN. He stepped down from his job as analyst for the Big Ten Network in early October.