Detroit Lions' President and General Manager Matt Millen was named to the National Football League's Competition Committee on Friday.
Millen fills the vacant role of "President/General Manager" of the committee, a surprise appointment by league Commissioner Paul Tagliabue considering Millen's lack of tenure in Detroit, and lack of success.
"Matt will bring a very valuable perspective to the Committee both as a former player and as a senior club executive," Tagliabue said.
The committee is one of the most influential in the NFL, a group of respected league principals that discuss at length the state of the game and suggest rule changes and other proposed modifications to league owner's once a year.
Among the changes the committee has imlemented include the banning of the 'horse-collar' tackle made famous by Dallas Cowboys' safety Roy Williams and the renewal of the five-yard illegal contact rule applied to defensive backs. It also spurred the introduction to instant replay.
The committee received some negative publicity during the off-season when Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren renounced his position on the board. Although unconfirmed, it was believed Holmgren left because of a what many deemed a poorly officiated Super Bowl XL.
Millen said he was pleased to accept the position.
"The Commissioner talked to me about it a while ago. But for me, I think it's the game – and that's the best part of it," said Millen, a former Super Bowl linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins. "I love the game, and it's kind of like being the gatekeeper of the game.
"I love that part about it. It's always about on the field, on the players and coaches and how it's going. How you've determined what they do is in that committee."
Millen joined Detroit in his current capacity in 2001, making him the least experienced of the team administrators within the committee. Under his regime, the Lions have posted a disappointing 21-59 overall mark -- the worst in the league during that five-year period.
His role with the committee will also not be a walk in the park.
Millen said that because the landscape of professional football is always changing, the position with the committee will present challenges.
"Rod (Marinelli) and I were talking about where we are as a football team and then where the game has come in the last 10 or 20 years and where it's going," said Millen. "It always has to evolve. That's the part that you have to study and see –- which way it's going and stay on top of that."
Asked whether not he would bring more a defensive presence to the committee, Millen was noncommital, but did say he wouldn't be afraid to be vocal with his thoughts.
"I don't know that," he said. "I know Don Shula wasn't that way and I know guys who've been on it in the past have their kind of dispositions. But I think what you don't know is: the people who are on the committee who make it up right now, you don't really know who is what. The rule comes out –- and I've noticed that a lot of work goes in on it because I've sat in on some of the meetings before.
"I think everybody's perspective is unique because everybody's got a different background. I just hope to contribute from that standpoint."
Added Millen, ""Having been a defensive player and seeing that standpoint, I certainly won't shy away from voicing my opinion."
With the addition of Millen, who replaced the departed Charlie Casserly, the current committee is made up of Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, Tennessee Titans head coach and Executive Vice President Jeff Fisher, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, New York Giants Executive Vice President and CEO John Mara, Baltimore Ravens' general manager Ozzie Newsome, Indianapolis Colts' President Bill Polian and Carolina Panthers' president. Mark Richardson.