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Full Speed Ahead
Jill Lieber
November 21, 1988
Seattle guard Bryan Millard pursues bass and opposing linebackers with equal fervor
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November 21, 1988

Full Speed Ahead

Seattle guard Bryan Millard pursues bass and opposing linebackers with equal fervor

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Millard drives a black Chevy pickup he calls the Pig Truck. "The only time it gets washed is when it rains," he says. The transmission has been rebuilt three times, and the odometer shows more than 60,000 miles. "It gets me from point A to point B when it's running," he says. "I don't need a fancy jeep, because it couldn't pull my boat."

He favors plaid, Western-style shirts designed and sewn by his mother, Judy. They have snaps, of course, instead of buttons. He owns eight pairs of cowboy boots. Given his choice, he would never wear a tie. "I hate it when people call me mister or sir," says Millard. "It's O.K. for kids to call me that, but to a waitress, a secretary, a gas-station attendant, the person behind a cash register, I should be just Bryan."

A tour of Millard's two-story home in Redmond, Wash., begins and ends in his two-car garage. How many people who make $275,000 a year show off the oil stains on their garage's cement floor? Hanging next to the workbench are three pairs of waders, several duck decoys, rubber boots, high-top sneakers, tennis shoes, a shotgun-shell reloader, 20 fishing rods, tangled lines, loads of lures, a chain saw and a stereo system. Mountain bikes, coolers and Christmas decorations are scattered everywhere. Millard proudly opens the freezer, which is overflowing with game he has shot or caught: ducks, pheasant, geese, king salmon, bass, halibut. On the inside of the garage door hangs a dart board, complete with pencil and score pad. "When the boys come over, this is where I entertain them," he says.

Millard still wonders why his wife, Connie, insisted on buying a black lacquer dining-room set and on redecorating the living room with plush burgundy love seats. He'll concede, though, that the "fancy sittin' room" has turned out to be a good place to display the Baccarat vases, decanters and wine glasses he recently started collecting. Bryan teases Connie incessantly about everything from her driving to her obsession with neatness.

Bryan and Connie met at Dumas ( Texas) High in 1979. "I bumped into Bryan in the school parking lot," Connie says. "He had just gotten a new Thunderbird. He asked if he could take me for a ride and buy me a Coke."

Four years later they were married at the First Baptist Church in Dumas. After a cake-and-punch reception for 200 guests, Bryan hauled Connie out the front door in a wheelbarrow, which she says is a custom in her family. Both of them are big on old-fashioned traditions and values. Connie starches and irons Bryan's jeans, and she cooks him elaborate Texas-style meals: chicken-fried steak, pork chops, beef brisket, mesquite-barbecued chicken, meat loaf, calf fries, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob and cherry pie.

He and Connie have only one major problem—his taste in music. "I like all kinds," Bryan says. "Country and western. And country and western."

Connie, who prefers rock, says, "He's got a very open mind, too."

Four years ago Millard bought a $70 acoustic guitar and signed up for weekly lessons from Dave Head, an instructor at Bandwagon Music, a store in Redmond. "Bryan practiced so much he got callused fingers," says Head. About a year later, Millard appeared on stage for the first time, singing and playing with Head's band, Dix Delux, at the local VFW hall. The affair was a BYOB Valentine's Day dance with a $4 cover. "I was so nervous," says Millard. "Dave told me if I did something wrong, I should throw the audience off by giving the boys dirty looks."

These days the boys jokingly refer to themselves as the Hank Millard Jr. Band, and they play gigs at joints in the Seattle area. Millard likes to lead offsets with a Hank Williams Jr. tune, I Really Like Girls, but his idol is Merle Haggard. "Merle Haggard and Merle Haggard are the alltime best singers," says Millard. "Man, oh man, my dream in life is to sit with the Hag on his bus, open a beer and do one of his tunes with him. You could stab me with a dull scissors right then and there, and I'd die happy."

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