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Millen Had Handshake Deal With NBC?

When we mentioned the other day that former Lions CEO Matt Millen will be joining ESPN, we wondered aloud whether Millen had an offer to join NBC. According to our connections in and around Bristol, he did. And it was more than an offer. As we hear it, Millen had an agreement in principle to join NBC’s coverage of the NFL. And, as we understand it, Millen struck the agreement in principle after rejecting an offer from ESPN to become a college football game analyst. But then, once he had a non-binding deal in place with NBC, ESPN sweetened the pot with the offer to take Emmitt Smith’s place at the Monday Night Football desk constructed at the site of each week’s game. Though Millen was fully within his rights to shop the NBC non-binding deal and then to renege on it, the question is whether a guy like Millen, on whom NBC took a chance -- and a fairly large P.R. hit -- earlier this year should have conducted himself differently. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether ESPN will be criticized for giving an extensive platform to the man who arguably was one of the worst front-office executives in the history of pro sports. (Whitlock, where you at?) It could be that the critics spoke their minds when Millen resurfaced with NBC, and that they’ve all moved on to other windmills now that Millen has been hired by ESPN. Of course, ESPN might want the criticism, since it would add to the buzz resulting from the decision to bring Millen on board. So for the same reasons we watched Emmitt to see whether he’d inadvertently expand the English language, we’ll be watching Millen to see if/when he has the nerve to criticize NFL franchises for making stupid draft picks or other misguided personnel moves. Either way, we’ll be watching -- and that’s ultimately what ESPN wants.