Matt Millen dealing with rare disease, likely needs heart transplant

Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; ESPN commentator Matt Millen prior to the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan 43-40 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Former NFL linebacker and executive Matt Millen will likely need of a heart transplant. Per Mark Wogenrich of The Morning Call, that stems from the fact that Millen went years without knowing that he was suffering from amyloidosis, a rare, life-threatening disease.

“Amyloidosis is a rare disease that occurs when abnormal proteins called amyloids, which are produced in bone marrow, build up in organs or tissue,” Wogenrich noted. “Primary amyloidosis, the most common form of the disease, can affect the heart, lungs, intestines or nervous system. Secondary amyloidosis most often affects the kidneys, spleen, liver or intestines.”

Millen’s initial plan was to postpone treatment until after the 2017 football season. But upon hearing that he wouldn’t survive the season if he did that, plans changed.

Millen played in the NFL from 1980-1991. He played with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins, winning four Super Bowls along the way. Following his playing career, he got into broadcasting and later became the CEO of the Detroit Lions. After he was fired from that job, Millen returned to broadcasting.

Since being diagnosed with the disease, Millen and his wife have worked hard at raising awareness for amyloidosis, a rare disease which impacts fewer than 4,000 people a year.