Lions tamer with 'Joey' after first-round selectionPosted: Sunday April 21, 2002 4:57 PM
Detroit Lions president and CEO Matt Millen talked with Sports Illustrated's Don Banks about his team's well-received but intriguing selection of Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington in the first round of the NFL draft:
Banks: Was the first-round selection of quarterback Joey Harrington a lean toward the wishes of your hand-picked head coach, Marty Mornhinweg, who was said to have favored Harrington over cornerback Quentin Jammer?
Millen: Marty's job is to coach the team and my job is to put him in the best possible position to do that. I think we did the right thing for the franchise, and that's my job. I have to look at the long term. If I was to look for the immediate hit right away, I'd have gone with the corner [Jammer].
But I thought we needed to solidify the quarterback position. And I think we've given ourselves two chances to do that. This franchise needed to solidify that position. And it could very well be that Mike McMahon is the guy. It could be that way.
Banks: Realistically, given the financial commitment that you will make to Harrington -- a signing bonus of about $10 million -- won't it be hard for McMahon to win the long-term starting job?
Millen: I agree with that. But skill-wise, it's going to be hard to beat Mike McMahon out. But there's more to it than just skills, and that's what we'll see. But at the very least, we'll have two good quarterbacks. And that's worth a lot.
Banks: Does the selection of Harrington leave you open to the perception that you "wasted" last year to some degree, in terms of the development of McMahon?
Millen: I hadn't really thought about the perception of how it'd be viewed. That's the least of my concerns. My biggest concern was I want to win right now. I'm an impatient person. And this is more of a patient pick. If I had a dour face on [Saturday after choosing Harrington], it's because that's a hard decision. Because it goes against what I want to do, which is win right away.
Like I said, Jammer was the easy pick. But it's not necessarily the right pick. That's the struggle that I've been fighting here. I've been walking around here for the last month or so, just going over it, looking at it, and weighing it. I knew the cornerback would help us right this second. While the quarterback is more of a pick for the future.
Banks: You were disappointed that you weren't able to trade down and parlay the No. 3 pick into a package, weren't you, filling maybe three needs instead of just one?
Millen: Yeah, I was disappointed. I was disappointed that nobody even tried. I thought for sure we'd get something. One team made an offer that was half-hearted. It wasn't Dallas. I had to call Dallas. They never called me. I thought for sure Dallas would call, because they wanted Jammer. They never offered.
Banks: You wanted the Cowboys' second-round pick to move down to No. 6, and they weren't even sure they'd do it for a third, right?
Millen: Right. [Dallas owner] Jerry [Jones] said if it's going to take more than a third, let's not even talk. I said that's fair. Because I wanted a second. I wanted to trade and take care of a few needs at once. I was on the phone all day. Every round. Up and down the league. Now there were some offers. Sure. It was, 'We'll take the rest of your draft.' I was, 'Yeah, OK. Thank you.'
Banks: Did you talk trade with anybody else in the first round?
Millen: I spoke to Washington. The Redskins could have done something. But they decided not to. They wanted to move up for Harrington, but Dallas was the team I thought would deal. In a dream world, if I moved down to six I could have still gotten Harrington, and gotten a good corner or a safety. Or I could have gotten a player. But nothing happened.
Banks: Anything else about the Harrington pick bear mentioning?
Millen: Just that we have to do something about that first name. I don't know if we can have a quarterback in Detroit and call him Joey. We've got to give him another name. There's something wrong with that, calling your quarterback Joey.