Last week I worked with Matt Millen’s Big Ten Network college football crew. Yes, it’s a team and all-around talented group, but to look around the production truck and the broadcast booth, there’s little doubt that it’s Matt’s crew.
After working beside Kevin Kugler for five weeks of the 2018 college football season as he’s done in the past, Big Ten Network earlier this month announced that the former NFL and college football player will not return to the booth for the rest of the season to focus on his fight against amyloidosis. Per the Amyloidosis Foundation, the disease affects fewer than 200,000 people in the United States and “occurs when amyloid protein fibers attach and deposit into organs, tissues, nerves and other places in the body.” In Matt’s case, it’s his heart.
I’ve worked with Matt and Kevin just a handful of games, but I quickly felt something was out of whack when a man with such a big organ in his chest needs a new one. Forget that the former linebacker has NFL bling that many jewelry stores would envy; Matt is as approachable to fans and others as anyone in the public eye. It’s why broadcasters at his own network, with which he’s worked since 2015, and others have sent positive vibes his way.
Include yours truly who keeps watch over announcers as they drop knowledge to viewers. I get to know some better than others and I don’t know Matt well. I can say, however, when I saw he looked wiped out before a game last season and asked if he was ok, Matt told me what was going on. There he was, a most imposing man who always greets me like we’ve known each other for years, pushing himself just so he could take in the atmosphere and talk about a game he loves. Kevin said Matt was business as usual this season, and others actually had to up their pace to keep up with him!
I wish I took a picture of Matt’s picture posted on monitors throughout the production truck last week. I’m sure they remain. I did, however catch Kevin when he kindly dressed the image in the booth. It’s simply a placeholder for when the real Matt returns.