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Catching Up With ... former Colt Randy McMillan

Each week in The Toy Department, veteran Baltimore Sun sportswriter Mike Klingaman tracks down a former local sports figure and lets you know what's happening in his/her life in a segment called, "Catching Up With ..." . Let Klingaman know who you'd like him to find and click here to check out previous editions of "Catching Up With ..."

He’ll be 51 next week, but the gift that Randy McMillan wants most, no one else can bestow.

"I want to be able to walk under my own power," .said McMillan, one-time fullback for the Baltimore Colts. "Maybe not 100 percent. But doctors say I’m capable, and I’ve got to be able to do that."

Injured seven years ago in a car crash that damaged his spine, McMillan – the Colts’ No. 1 draft pick in 1981 – uses crutches to get around his condo in Towson. Next month, he’ll receive steroid injections in an effort to kick-start the healing process that has slowed of late.

Meanwhile, McMillan works to strengthen his legs, inching his way along neighborhood streets with all of the might he can muster.

It’s a fight he’s determined to win.

2005 Sun file photo by Andre F. Chung

"If I can go from being a kid in Jarrettsville, growing up to make it in the NFL, then I can do this," McMillan said.

Make it in the pros, he did. Baltimore fans embraced their home-town hero after McMillan’s auspicious debut. He rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-28 upset of New England, a feat reminiscent of a punishing fullback of yore, the Colts’ Alan (The Horse) Ameche.

Before the game, McMillan said, "I was scared to death thinking I would fall on my butt, screw up, blow routes and do everything wrong."

Sensing the rookie’s jitters, Bert Jones sidled over.

"Calm down, kid," the quarterback said. "Just do what you do."

McMillan did.

The Colts floundered from there, losing 14 in a row.

"The second week, against Buffalo, I got hammered," he said. "My first carry, I got the ball only to have my own lineman jammed back five yards in my face."

The next year was worse. In strike-shortened 1982, the club went 0-8-1, to McMillan’s chagrin. Here was a player who’d been weaned on the Colts in their heyday, who’d attended John Carroll and North Harford High, and who’d made All-American at Harford Community College before earning a scholarship to Pitt.

"That year (1982) was chaos, a joke," McMillan said. "We looked like a high school team. We had players starting who’d been cut by other clubs. Guys really didn’t care if we won or lost, and baby, it showed on the field."

He had three decent seasons in Baltimore, gaining 1,700 yards rushing while catching 89 passes for 750 more. Then, in 1984, the club moved to Indianapolis, where McMillan played three more years before a road accident in April, 1987 cut short his career.

Walking across York Road, he was struck by a car, shattering his left leg in two places. When two comebacks failed, McMillan took a job managing a health club in White Marsh.

Then came the second accident, in December, 2002, when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car into a guardrail, bruising his spinal cord.

Recovery has been slow, in fits and starts, but McMillan remains hopeful. He’s OK financially, with an NFL pension and an annuity from the Colts.

Between walks, he chats online with old teammates, linemen like Chris Hinton and Ray Donaldson who once carved holes for the 6-1, 225-pound fullback with oaken thighs and 4.5 speed.

"It (the injury) has been an eye-opener for me," he said. "But I take on the challenge – and I’ve got friends."

Bottom photos: Sun archives 

Comments

I'm sorry to hear about both accidents.

I remember him in the backfield with Dickey. What a combo.

Did you have to include that picture with Irsay in it?

In 1982, while at a health club in Timonium, I found myself at the little bar they had (It must have been a juice bar, but I can't recall) talking to four Colts, McMillan and Donaldson among them. They were so down to earth it was unbelievable. This guy was so unspoiled when he could have been a prima dona. I wish him all the luck in the world

You might have added for flavor that the duo of McMillian and Dickey led the NFL in rushing even though the team was essentially atrocious.
Having been a Harford county footballer (Joppatowne, '86) myself, we all knew of Randy's exploits at the county level, and we're overjoyed to root for him on our home town Colts, but I guess our hardest rooting comes now. YOU CAN DO IT RANDY! Godbless!

God Bless Randy. If the team had a better line who knows what Curtis Dickey and Randy could have done.What a tandem!

I live in Indianapolis and I knew Randy personally when this accident happened. He was an incredible football player and I was happy to call him my friend. I hope he is well these days and wish him nothing but the best.

I was at PITT when Randy was All-American at PITT. What a great guy he was and we here at PITT wish him a full recovery. Get Well Mac Attack !!

Randy & I became great friends playing together in junior college. What a awsome guy.

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