Wayne Millner

Wayne Millner

    When Wayne Millner joined the Boston Redskins in 1936, the news so excited the team's new coach, Ray Flaherty, he promised to resign if "we don't win the championship with that big Yankee playing end."

    The Redskins did win the Eastern Division title that year and Millner, a star on both offense and defense, was a major contributor. For the next few seasons during which the Redskins, who moved to Washington in 1937, won two more divisional titles and one NFL championship, Wayne became the favorite target of the brilliant passer, Sammy Baugh.

    The two combined for many a blockbuster play during some of the Redskins' finest seasons. In the 1937 championship showdown with the Chicago Bears, Baugh threw touchdown passes of 55 and 78 yards to Millner, then used his as a decoy when he threw the game’s winning pass to Ed Justice. Wayne wound up the day with nine catches for 160 yards.

    Millner was among the last of the outstanding two-way ends. When he wasn't catching Baugh's passes, he was blocking for him. He was competitive, determined, and known for his sure hands.

    A “money player,” he was always at his best when the stakes were the highest and the pressure was on full force. Millner, who entered the Navy after the 1941 season, wound up his seven-year career in 1945 with 124 receptions for 1,578 yards and 12 touchdowns, which were the best ever for a Redskin up to that time.

    Had he played for any other pro team, he might have captured more headlines but the Redskins had Baugh who gained most of the publicity. There may also have been one other factor. So often did Millner deliver under pressure, the press and fans and even his own coaches came to take his clutch performances for granted.

      Wayne Vernal Millner (January 31, 1913 – November 19, 1976) was an American football player who was known for his clutch play as an offensive and defensive end for both the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and for the National Football League's Washington Redskins.

      Millner attended and played college football at the University of Notre Dame from 1933 through 1935.

      While at Notre Dame, Millner was involved in many notable plays. In 1933, Notre Dame was playing unbeaten Armyand trailed 12-6 with one minute to play. Then Millner blocked an Army punt and recovered it for a touchdown and Notre Dame won 13-12.[2]

      In 1935, both Notre Dame and Ohio State University were unbeaten. Notre Dame trailed 13-0, but then scored two late touchdowns. Millner then caught a touchdown pass from Bill Shakespeare in the closing seconds to beat Ohio State, 18-13 and stayed undefeated

      Millner was drafted in the eighth round of the 1936 NFL Draft by the Boston Redskins, with head coach Ray Flaherty seeing him as a major component to winning a league championship. After losing to the Green Bay Packers in the title game that year, the franchise moved to Washington D.C. in 1937 and defeated the Chicago Bears 28-21 to win the title. Millner played a big role in the victory, catching touchdown passes of 55 and 78 yards from Sammy Baugh.[3]

      Millner entered the United States Navy during World War II and after three years away, returned to the Redskins for one final season in 1945 before retiring.[1]

      During his seven seasons, he caught 124 passes for 1,578 yards, a 12.7 average, and 12 touchdowns

      In 1968, Millner was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming only the third Notre Dame player (to that point) to earn the honor. A touching moment took place during the induction ceremonies, when the large crowd there to cheer for former teammate Cliff Battles, also chose to give Millner a huge ovation. Millner had only been accompanied by his wife, Sara.

      While playing for the Redskins, Millner was an assistant coach with The Catholic University of America's Cardinals, and went with them to the 1940 Sun Bowl.[4] After having served as a player-coach in 1945, Millner became a full-time assistant for the team the following year, spending three seasons in that role. In 1949, he moved to theAll-America Football Conference as a Chicago Hornets assistant, then spent the next year in the same role with the original Baltimore Colts.

      In 1951, he was hired as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles under Bo McMillin, but when McMillin was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer, Millner was elevated to interim head coach. He resigned prior to the start of the 1952 NFL season, citing health problems. However, just 17 days after his decision, he accepted an assistant coaching position with the Redskins.

      Millner stayed as an assistant until 1957, when he accepted an assistant coaching position at Hardin-Simmons University, working under his old cohort, Baugh. After just one season, Millner resigned the post and worked as a car salesman until returning to the Redskins as a scout in 1963, the same year he suffered his first heart attack.

      Millner returned to coaching one final time when he served one year as an assistant with the World Football League's Florida Blazers under former Redskin Jack Pardee in 1974. Originally, the team was scheduled to begin play as the Virginia Ambassadors before financial considerations forced the move.

      Millner died of a heart attack in 1976, with the entire Redskins organization attending his funeral.