Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote a column over the weekend in which he argued in favor of NBC's decision to hire Matt Millen as an NFL studio analyst. Mushnick's argument is seriously flawed.
Mushnick starts out well enough: He points out that Millen was once a good TV analyst. I agree with this. In the 1990s, Millen was one of the better color commentators in the NFL. But this is 2009, and so much has changed since then that there's just no way to take Millen seriously anymore.
Funny, thing though, had Millen not left his FoxBut the whole point is that Millen did leave broadcasting and take the Lions job. And the eight Lions teams that were run by Millen had a combined record of 31-97, by far the worst record in the NFL over that period of time. We're questioning his credibility now in a way we didn't in 2001 because we have additional information right now. Does Mushnick really think the football fans who watch Millen on TV can simply erase that 31-97 record from their minds? analyst's gig in 2001 for the Lions' job, he might today be widely known as one of the best football analysts on the tube. Not that the competition ever has been tough, but in 2001 he was heading in that direction. And few-to-none today would question his credibility as a football analyst.
Mushnick then makes an even more ridiculous comment about Steve Mariucci:
Under Mariucci, the Lions were 15-28. Mariucci since has become an NFL Network analyst. Few, if any, felt that to be a rotten hire.Phil, Mariucci had a bad record as coach of the Lions because Millen was choosing his players. Under coaches other than Mariucci, the Millen-era Lions went 16-69. By comparison, Mariucci's 15-28 record is actually pretty good. That's why no one thinks Mariucci is a rotten hire as an NFL analyst: Because we realize that Mariucci, under the circumstances, did a decent job in Detroit.
And then there's this:
Millen, from the time he was an All-America defensive tackle at Penn State, has been a good guy with whom to talk football and most anything else on or off the air.That's the bottom line reason that so many in the media, like Mushnick, try to defend Millen's indefensible record: They think he's a "good guy." When he was a player, Millen always took time out to talk to reporters, and gave them good quotes for their stories. As a result, he has a lot of friends in the football media.
But while I've never met Millen personally, I have a problem with all these stories about what a "good guy" he is. Millen did a lot of things as Lions president, most notably entering the Kansas City locker room after a Lions-Chiefs game and berating Chiefs wide receiver (and former Lion) Johnnie Morton with a homophobic slur, that make me think it's long past time the media stop giving him the "good guy" pass.
The bottom line for a commentator is that he'll be judged by what he says. If Millen appears on NBC and provides insightful commentary about the NFL, then he's doing his job. But given Millen's record over the last eight years, we should all greet his return to TV with a healthy dose of skepticism, not by heaping him with praise.