Whatever his fate this season, Millard believes he is a much better man for having had to overcome a serious injury. He found out the hard way that he didn't need football to feel special. When he wasn't concentrating on rehabilitating his knee, he spent most of his free time with Sallie and Dustin, now 3½. Another son, Johnny Keith, was born on June 5, and now Millard finally can appreciate being part of a close family.
As for his stormy past, he saw his natural father only once after Brian's disappearance, and that was when Keith was 19. Brian has long since remarried and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. Millard's mother and stepfather, who now live in Elkhorn, Wis., occasionally visit, but Keith's ties to them remain strained.
"I feel like a new person," he says. "I learned how to deal with people when I wasn't a football player. I always wondered how they'd react to me, if they'd respect me. I found out I have other attributes that I like—and that others like. The injury made me a lot more mature. I have a better grasp of reality in life. I'm more patient and giving. I'm a lot closer to my family and more team oriented. I'm so much stronger emotionally. I have proven to myself that I can overcome the most dreaded injury in football. It's almost like dying and realizing life has been given back to me. I can't wait to play."