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MARK MCMILLIAN A LITTLE MAN AND HIS SHORT STORY

Nov. 06, 1995
Nov. 06, 1995

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Nov. 6, 1995

MARK MCMILLIAN A LITTLE MAN AND HIS SHORT STORY

By RICHARD DEUTSCH

THERE IS a place where the NFL's little men stand tall, where
the achievements of the undersized are given significant weight.
Over the last two seasons, 5'7", 148-pound Eagle cornerback Mark
McMillian has featured fellow pint-sized players on a regular
segment of teammate Randall Cunningham's weekly pregame show.
Although McMillian's spot--which is aptly named Little Big
Men--lasts only five minutes, it's no small potatoes. Last month
it was awarded an Emmy by the National Academy of Television
Arts and Sciences as the region's outstanding sports feature.

This is an article from the Nov. 6, 1995 issue

Only those standing 5'9" or shorter measure up for McMillian's
highlight package. Everyone else beware. On Sunday's show
McMillian and his guest host, 5'8" Philadelphia running back
Vaughn Hebron, showed off a spectacular kickoff return by 5'9"
Raider rookie Napoleon Kaufman and, in the process, cut a big
man down to size. The target: 6'8", 317-pound Eagle teammate
Bernard Williams, who was suspended for the rest of the season
on Oct. 23 for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

"Napoleonic Complex Kaufman was really smokin'," says Hebron,
over film of Kaufman tearing down the field for an 82-yard
touchdown. Hebron adds that Eagle coach Ray Rhodes always
encourages his players to "smoke on the grass," to run quickly.
McMillian responds, "Not smokin' grass, Bernard."

McMillian is quick to protect the honor of all little men. As he
airs a clip of a 98-yard interception return by 5'9" Oiler
cornerback Darryll Lewis, McMillian notes, "As usual, they're
always selling us little men short. It was 99 yards, not 98."
When 49er linebacker Ken Norton Jr. is shown punching a St.
Louis goalpost following his own interception return for a TD,
McMillian, who was a broadcast journalism major at Alabama,
correctly points out, "That routine belongs to the 5'9" Vai
Sikahema."

Although the show is broadcast only in the Philadelphia area,
its influence spans the league. McMillian still catches grief
from those players who didn't make his 1994 All-Little Man Team.
Upon hearing that he had been named McMillian's Little Big Man
Player of the Year, 5'8" Detroit running back Barry Sanders
said, "A lot of little guys are out there smiling."

McMillian doesn't appreciate being underrated. On his first day
of minicamp in June 1992 McMillian was greeted derisively by
All-Pro defensive end Reggie White. "Who is this little kid?"
White said. "Why are you bringing all your bags? You're not
going to be here too long." McMillian, the team's 10th-round
draft pick that year, set out to prove White wrong. After
starting three games as a rookie, McMillian became a regular
fixture in the lineup in 1993. With the move of Pro Bowl
cornerback Eric Allen to New Orleans this past off-season,
McMillian is now the senior member of the Eagles' young
secondary.

"It feels good," McMillian says of being recognized as one of
the NFL's best cover men. "People wrote me off, saying I was too
small. Four years later I'm still here."

--RICHARD DEUTSCH

COLOR PHOTO: CHRIS USHERThe Emmy-winning Eagle cornerback takes to the air to preach that bigger isn't always better. [Mark McMillian]