The stories were nice, and accurate, too, as far as they went. But the 36-year-old Milloy is making it clear through his offseason work with the Seahawks that he’s not satisfied with being listed on the depth chart under “Elder Statesman.”
He’s out there with a rookie’s eagerness to clobber receivers, make big plays and win games.
“I’m here because I want to compete for a chance to be on the field,” Milloy said after Monday’s organized training session at the team’s headquarters. “If you’re not thinking about being a starter and being on the field all the time, you’re cheating yourself.”
Milloy worked with the starting unit Monday as first-round draft pick Earl Thomas of Texas was prevented, by NFL rules, from working with the team in these sessions yet.
Milloy, not about to “cheat” himself, came up with some nice plays, showed he still has good legs under him, and also delivered a nice pop on tight end Cameron Morrah.
Milloy has been to four Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with New England. The Hawks picked him up as a free agent last September. And although for him it represented the appealing chance to play for the home-town team, it was a new experience to join a team so late.
Milloy did what he does: He kept his mouth shut and did everything that was asked … including playing extensively on special teams, which is not customary for aging former Pro Bowl players.
“It was a very unexpected role for me, to be honest,” Milloy said. “But part of leadership is buying into the blueprint of how you last in this league, by being humble, and willing to help your team in whatever way you’re asked. I was never going to be vocal about my situation, but it ate me up inside not being on the field.”
And even stepping up as a leader was tough, considering his newness to the team.
“Everybody was already established and I didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” he said. “I wasn’t really in a role I was accustomed to. You have to respect the locker room and what they had built, and I felt I did a good job of that.”
New Seahawks coach Pete Carroll coached Milloy in New England early in his career, and called him one of the best competitors he’s ever been around. And although Milloy is fighting for a spot on the roster, Carroll lauded him during an earlier minicamp for his willing tutelage of Thomas on the field.
As a free agent, Milloy could have forestalled his return, but he recently re-upped with the Seahawks for another year so he could be a part of these training sessions.
“If I didn’t have a fire for the game, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “I don’t have to be doing this. But I’ve got a passion for the competition and a passion for the game, and I feel I can still do it at a high level. You saw when I got on the field last year, I got after it; I wasn’t backing down from any hits.”
But he knows how rare 14-year veteran safeties are in the NFL, and he’s prepping for the next stage by working to build off-field connections in the business world.
“One of the biggest reasons for (playing) at home is because the transition to life after football would be easier, no matter what I do. I’ve been trying to perfect my craft for so many years in this one area that looking into the business world is like starting over as a rookie.”
He’s working on the local expansion of his charitable organization – The Lawyer Milloy Foundation – because he said, “I think the legacy of a man is not what you do in sports, but more so the way you use your platform to better the people around you and help your community.”
The foundation has a broad-based set of beneficiaries, Milloy said, because he feels he owes so much to so many groups and individuals.
“The charity is open to almost anything because I’ve had so many people influence me in my life,” he said. “I was a product of the streets of Tacoma; my mother and father did drugs; I was a foster kid, and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs really helped get me where I am.”
Through the years, it’s been this hunger and positive attitude that have driven Milloy to his level of success in the NFL.
And he’s obviously not yet ready to give it up.