June 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

John Niyo

Matt Millen back on TV where he belongs

Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams takes off on a route during drills at mini-camp in Carrollton, Texas. The former Lion is wearing the same number he did at Texas. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

If it's true, as former Lions president Matt Millen explained this week, "You learn a lot from failures," then the NFL Network's Thursday night broadcasts beginning in mid-November figure to be pretty informative, don't they?

Few, if any, have failed quite so completely as an NFL executive than did Millen, whose reign in Detroit produced the league's worst eight-year stretch (31-97) since World War II and culminated in last season's 0-16 debacle.

Yet now he's headed back to the TV booth -- a bit humbled, but still laughing.

"As a player, we would sit down in the locker room sometimes and go, 'What the heck are they thinking about up there?'" Millen told Sirius NFL Radio this week. "And, I can tell you, sometimes you sit up in the front office and you go, 'What the heck are we thinking up here?'"

Lions fans no doubt cringe at that quip, and they'll be incensed to hear him mockingly shouldering the blame for the auto industry's woes. In Detroit, folks want a trial, a conviction and an execution. Instead, they get this furlough for Millen -- first with NBC and now with ESPN and the league's own network.

But the truth of it is, Millen's good at what he does, provided there's a microphone in front of him, not a draft board. As Steve Mariucci, one of his estranged former employees -- and now a colleague again -- put it bluntly during Super Bowl week, "It's what he does best, I think. I mean, it's what he did best before. How he does now remains to be seen."

Marshall wants out

First, it was McJaygate. Now, it's the Marshall Plan.

Two months after Jay Cutler forced his way out of Denver, Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall is trying to do the same, with teams like Baltimore, Chicago and the New York Jets in the market for a No. 1 wideout.

Marshall, in the final year of his first contract, wants a long-term deal that pays him a lot more than the $2.2 million he's due to make in 2009. Fair enough: He's got 200-plus catches the last two seasons.

But barring a new labor agreement in the next year, he might not become an unrestricted free agent for two more years. And despite his trade demand -- Marshall actually posted a farewell to Denver fans on his blog Tuesday after skipping a mandatory mini-camp -- the Broncos don't sound interested in dealing the oft-troubled talent.

Receiver ramblings

Speaking of receivers ...

In Cincinnati, Chad Johnson -- er, OchoCinco -- showed up late for voluntary workouts after getting called out by quarterback Carson Palmer . Now he says he plans to stay with Palmer's family in California next month, even promising to babysit 6-month-old twins -- as he works out with his quarterback before camp.

In Dallas, ex-Lions receiver Roy Williams has been working overtime to develop some chemistry with Tony Romo . The trick, Williams knows, is to catch every ball thrown his way.

"And buddy him up," he added. "Bring him some food, let him borrow some money if he needs some, just be his best friend. I've just got to continue to be his best friend.

"Put my arm around him and hug him, tell him that his girlfriend (singer Jessica Simpson ) looks pretty good, and we'll go from there."

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Key dates

  • Late July: Training camps open
  • Aug. 9: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio (Buffalo vs. Tennessee)
  • Aug. 13-17: First exhibition weekend
  • Sept. 1: Roster cutdown to 75 players
  • Sept. 5: Roster cutdown to 53 players
  • Sept. 10-14: Regular season begins
  • Oct. 20: Trading deadline
  • Jan. 3: Regular season ends
  • Jan. 9-10: Wild-card playoffs
  • Jan. 16-17: Divisional playoffs
  • Jan. 24: Conference championships
  • Jan. 31: Pro Bowl
  • Feb. 7: Super Bowl XLIV

  • Potency, plus

    The NFL Network's top 10 offenses in history:

    1. 1999 Rams
    2. 2007 Patriots
    3. 1998 Vikings
    4. 1950 Rams
    5. 1983 Redskins
    6. 1984 Dolphins
    7. 1981 Chargers
    8. 2004 Colts
    9. 1987 49ers
    10. 1958 Colts

    Source: NFL Network

    Tony Romo is working with Williams on chemistry. (Ronald Martinez /Getty Images)
    Tony Romo is working with Williams on chemistry. (Ronald Martinez /Getty Images)
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