Matt Millen: 'I Stunk' at Being GM, John Elway Can Succeed
Millen was an abject failure as GM of the Lions from 2001 to 2008. His drafts mostly turned out terribly, and his teams were constantly at the bottom of the NFL. The last of those teams, in 2008, became the first squad ever to go 0-16.
Millen hopes Elway can succeed where he's failed.
"I hope John does better than I did, because I stunk at it," he said.
Elway does have a slight leg up on Millen in that he oversaw the Colorado Crush of the AFL, though that's a far cry from succeeding at the head of an NFL franchise. Millen joined Detroit from the broadcast booth.
"The first thing John has to do is learn the culture of the building," Millen said. "He should be ahead of the curve, because he's been around it. And then he has to learn the culture of the league. There's a lot of red tape, and there's a lot of politicking. And that's fine; you have that everywhere. Pat (Bowlen, Broncos owner) will help him. Joe Ellis (Broncos COO) will help him a lot too. Joe is really good at what he does.
"There's a misconception about the job," Millen continued. "It's less about the game of football. It's less about X's and O's. It's less about personnel decisions. It's a job about managing people. It's about building a consensus when you pick the right head coach. You can't go in and be this football czar and say this is how it's going to work. If you pick somebody that a coach doesn't like and doesn't coach, that's a bad situation."
The jump from player to front office chief has had mixed success. Beside Millen, Dan Marino quit three weeks into his stint as Dolphins senior vice president of football operations. Ozzie Newsome, however, has been an incredible success as Ravens GM. Newsome, however, rose through the ranks of scouting and player personnel on his way there.
Ultimately, though, Millen thinks Elway can have success.
"There's no question. Any player who's making any cash, anybody who they've invested in, has to be evaluated. They have people there who have already formed their own opinion. But John is going to have to get his own opinion. Absolutely, John has a shot to be successful."