Sept. 7, 2009
By GREGG BELL
The Associated Press
RENTON, Wash. -- No more lounging at home. No more taking his wife on dates whenever they wanted to go. Lawyer Milloy has finally found work.
Actually, it found him. And it wasn't a cozy meeting at 6 a.m. on Monday.
"Believe me, I tried to hit that alarm clock, like, 10 times," Milloy said following the first practice since his hometown Seattle Seahawks called him out of unemployment and gave him a one-year contract. "But I had to get up. I have a job now."
The 35-year-old, a four-time Pro Bowl safety and former Super Bowl winner for New England, had been jobless and on his own, breezy schedule for six months. He'd been at his home in the Seattle area, relishing finally getting to go to softball games and on dates with his wife, after 13 summers spent training and playing in other cities.
"I (was) like, 'Why do I live there?' because it was always raining," Milloy said of life being at home only from January to March - until Atlanta cut its three-year starter in February.
"I got to see the sunshine, finally, because I wasn't in training camp and I wasn't in another city. And it's a beautiful place!"
Those dates with his wife and summer nights at home never showed the rust that Monday's practice did.
When someone tried to tell Milloy he looked fluid and rust-free after a two-hour practice spent with the second-team defense and running on scout teams in an effort to get in shape for Sunday's opener against St. Louis, Milloy scoffed.
"You want to jump in my body?" he said with a laugh.
A few minutes later in the locker room, the oldest Seahawk besides 36-year-old kicker Olindo Mare asked his new teammates where an ice bath was.
Ice baths. Cramming a new Seahawks defensive playbook of first-year coordinator Gus Bradley into his head. Running down the field on scout-team kickoffs with an orange beanie atop his helmet, as he did Monday. Whatever can get him in the lineup. And now.
The Seahawks cut two-year starter Brian Russell on Saturday and then signed Milloy to a one-year contract. And the void the former University of Washington star needs to fill is vast: Seattle had the league's worst pass defense last season, one of the reasons it finished 4-12, its worst season in 16 years.
Jordan Babineaux, a five-year veteran with 13 career starts, was on the first-team defense next to fellow safety Deon Grant during practice Monday. But the Seahawks didn't sign Milloy to sit on the bench.
Can he be ready to play, if not start, Sunday?
"I better be," he said, chuckling.
Seahawks coach Jim Mora was Seattle's defensive backs coach the past two seasons and the coach who brought Milloy to the Falcons in 2006.
Grant believes Milloy can start against the Rams. He thinks because Bradley's schemes are still new to the Seahawks, Milloy isn't that far behind in learning them.
Plus, even though he turns 36 in November, Milloy has a lot of athleticism. He was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 29th round of the 1992 draft out of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., and played minor league baseball while starring on Washington's football team.
"He's been playing in the league for years - and not just a normal player. He's won Super Bowls," Grant said. "He's not a rookie. He's probably seen a million defenses. And it's a new defense for us, too."
Milloy said he turned down a contract offer from the Detroit Lions, for whom he worked out last week, because he wanted to come home and finish his career with the Seahawks.
He said he and his family loved his time in Atlanta, and understood the situation. His only regret there is that he won't be around to see the Falcons continue to rise following a surprising postseason appearance.
"The only reason why I didn't want to leave Atlanta is because I know the direction that team is going in, and I helped build that," he said. "I had a great year (as) a leader on that team, but there's a contract. And my contract was up. ... I played my butt off for that city."
Now, he gets to play for the team he grew up following 45 minutes down the road.
"After I've accomplished a lot in my career, I'm figuring that I have one or two more years, or three more years or whatever, to give to a cause. That cause needs to be for my family members that helped in supporting me all my career," Milloy said. "That's the perfect scenario: go off, have a successful career, and you come home and you still got something in the tank, and give it your all.
"That's why I'm happy to be here."