Ex-Lions president Matt Millen, battling illness, reflects on his tenure in Detroit

Former Detroit Lions CEO Matt Millen is suffering from a rare disease that might force him to seek a heart transplant.

Millen, who returned to sports broadcasting after his departure from Detroit in 2008, told The Morning Call that he's battling amyloidosis.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Millen, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment, reflected on his career, including his time in Detroit.

Millen was asked if he enjoyed his time in Detroit.

“Yes,” he told SI writer Peter King. “I enjoyed—I did not like the process because of the reality of what it is. Really when I take my steps back, I was not ready at all. Not even close. I was in over my head. And by the time I figured it out, it wasn’t necessarily too late, but we were in pretty deep.”

Millen also talked about a draft pick he regrets.

“The one that killed me was Mike Williams,” Millen said. “That was just so stupid Pete. It’s like my brain fell off my head. Why would I do that?”

King asked Millen how it happened.

“I listened to the group. They thought if they got Mike Williams and paired him with Roy Williams that in the red zone we could do all these things. And I was like okay. Do you realize at that time, when we were just about ready to pick, I had DeMarcus Ware on the phone? And I said, ‘All right, take Mike Williams.’ My son was in the draft room with us, and that’s when my son punched me. What a dope I was.”

“How football history could have changed if you picked Ware instead of Mike Williams,” King said.

“How ‘bout that?” Millen said. “Maybe we would have ruined him too.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, Amyloidosis (am-uh-loi-DO-sis) is a rare disease that occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in your organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is produced in your bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ.

Amyloidosis can affect different organs in different people, and there are different types of amyloid.Amyloidosis frequently affects the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure. There's no cure for amyloidosis. 

Millen told the paper the disease is attacking his heart.

According to the paper, Millen's heart is working at around 30 percent of capacity, and he is believed to eventually need a heart transplant. Millen has been undergoing chemotherapy once a week for the past eight months. 

Millen was diagnosed last summer after years with chest pain. "I know what you have, and you're not going to like it," Millen said the doctors told him, according to The Morning Call.

Millen spent seven years as the CEO and de facto general manager of the Detroit Lions, between 2001 and 2008.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.