You never know who you’re going to see while hanging around a big airport, waiting to get on a plane in a faraway city.
Like on one of those tiny planes that you really can’t stand up in and used to be way more illness-inducing when it had propellers instead of jet engines.
But I digress.
I was waiting to get on a commuter flight from Chicago O’Hare to Madison earlier today when a man stood up and started to walk past.
He realized I was looking at him and I’m sure he figured I was just another anonymous fan-type who recognized him.
He smiled and said something about “another one of these flights” and slapped my shoulder like someone who forgets your name.
I looked around for confirmation. There were plenty of football fans dressed in Penn State blue and Wisconsin red who surely would recognize Millen as well if not better than me.
He was a Penn State great and was kind of an infamous Detroit Lions general manager and also has been doing face work on ESPN/ABC for college football games.
He did tear up in-studio while he gave his reaction to the Penn State child-sex-abuse scandal and Joe Paterno’s alleged involvement in a possible cover-up.
Could he be a player in helping find Penn State a new head coach?
So, after finally sitting down in the first row of plane, I realize I can’t even move around to see the guy in back of me, no less anyone else. So I stretch my neck forward to look at the plane’s passenger list that was conveniently hanging out of a pocket by pilot’s cabin.
Sure enough, a “M. Millen” was on it.
So I had my guy.
(“Is he crying?” a friend of mine texted, sarcastically. No, he wasn’t!).
After the 40-minute flight I got off and saw Mille as I waited for a piece of luggage. I introduced myself as a member of the media.
And as quickly as I did that one of those fans popped out of nowhere and jumped into the conversation, thanking Millen for his support of Penn State.
Then he asked Millen to pose for a picture.
So after the picture we chatted for just a few moments and he talked briefly about how great of a job he thought Tom Bradley was doing as an interim head coach. (The two were former teammates).
He mentioned being in town to do analyst work on ESPN for tomorrow’s Penn State and Wisconsin game.
Then he kind of grimaced and started to say something about the Penn State offensive line …
He thought better of himself.
He smiled and started to walk away.
But not before he slapped my shoulder again and wished me well.