ESPN commentator and much-maligned former NFL GM Matt Millen criticized All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis in an interview Monday with a local Bay Area station. Willis took exception to some of Millen's words.
Speaking with 95.7 FM The Game, Millen said he thought Willis and teammate NaVorro Bowman had the worst game he had ever seen the star linebacking duo play in Sunday's Week 6 loss to the New York Giants.
San Francisco lost the contest 26-3, their most lopsided loss at home in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Bowman and Willis were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the game in tackles, recording 19 combined versus New York, three for a loss.
According to SportsRadioInterviews.com, Willis went on the same radio show later Monday to respond to the comments, saying:
Whoever this Matt Millen guy is, I’d like to ask him if he could do what we do every day and do what we do for 16 games a year and see if he can hold up every game. I doubt he would. I doubt he would be able to consistently play at a high level as Bowman and I do. I really don’t care about what this guy has to say.
While Willis is the top middle linebacker in the game today, he is wrong to suggest that Millen doesn’t know what he’s talking about—Millen did play in the NFL at a high level. He won four Super Bowls and was twice an All-Pro selection.
Still, Willis should have taken the comments with a gain of salt. While he may have been a top linebacker in his day, Millen proved he is absolutely awful at evaluating talent.
It’s easy to rip Millen after his disastrous stint running the Detroit Lions—since he essentially assembled the NFL's worst team ever—but being ignorant to the fact that Millen played 12 seasons in the league is out of character for the usually quiet and well-spoken Willis.
Tuesday, Willis apologized for his harsh words against Millen, saying (via Mercury News):
"Yesterday kind of got to me. A lot of times I don't have a lot to say on what other people say. It was my emotion coming out the day after a game. I said things I shouldn't have said. I apologize for those things. I have all the respect in the world for the guys who played this game and played at a high level."