Matt Millen has been battling amyloidosis, a rare heart disease, since 2011. (Chris Knight/Associated Press)
The Big Ten Network announced Wednesday that Matt Millen will not return to the broadcast booth for the rest of the season to pursue further treatment for amyloidosis, a rare heart disease that first started affecting him in 2011. Millen has been a color commentator for five games this season and has been with the network since 2015.
“We will certainly miss seeing Matt this fall, but his health is the clear priority for everyone involved and we plan to support him in any way possible,” Mark Hulsey, the Big Ten Network’s senior vice president of production and executive producer, said in a statement issued via Twitter.
Millen, 60, revealed earlier this year that he had amyloidosis, which occurs when a rogue protein builds up in organs or tissue and robs the heart of its ability to function. According to the Amyloidosis Foundation, the disease affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. Symptoms — which include chest pain and shortness of breath — often resemble those of other diseases and go unchecked until permanent damage has been done. After years of tests failed to explain his symptoms, Millen finally learned he had the disease last year and has undergone chemotherapy, at times nearly every week. There is no cure for amyloidosis, only treatment, and Millen said in April that his heart is operating at only about 30 percent capacity, likely necessitating a transplant. If a medical evaluation shows he’s a top candidate for a heart transplant, he would have to spend at least four months at a California hospital to be available in case a donor heart comes in, and then to recover from the transplant itself.
“We’re in the fourth quarter of a big football game,” Millen told Peter King in May. “We’re down 13. Playing defense. It’s getting late.”
Millen, a linebacker, is the only player in NFL history to have won Super Bowl titles in four cities: two with the Raiders in Oakland and Los Angeles and one each with the 49ers and Redskins. He then went into broadcasting after his playing career ended before spending a seven-year stretch as the Detroit Lions' chief executive officer from 2001 to 2008.
His colleagues offered support on social media after hearing the news Wednesday:
Incredibly saddened to hear this - but hopeful that it's a step toward recovery for Matt. He brings so much knowledge and passion to our broadcasts and will be sorely missed. https://t.co/T3jhUwp08v
— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) October 3, 2018
Ryan Willis was 0 for college. Now he’s 1-0 as the Hokies' starting QB with Notre Dame on tap.
Miami player calls Florida State’s turnover backpack a ‘purse’
Motivation or abuse? Maryland confronts football’s fine line as new allegations emerge.
'He’s fighting’: Tennessee State player in critical condition after surgery for head injury