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posted: 7/4/2013 10:07 AM

Rush's McMillen not distracted by HOF nomination

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  • Chicago Rush head coach Bob McMillen of Naperville is one the finalists for the 2013 Arena Football Hall of Fame. Fans can cast their vote at arenafootball.com through July 26.

      Chicago Rush head coach Bob McMillen of Naperville is one the finalists for the 2013 Arena Football Hall of Fame. Fans can cast their vote at arenafootball.com through July 26.
    Photo courtesy of Chicago Rush

 
By Matt Sasso
msasso@dailyherald.com

While Chicago Rush head coach Bob McMillen is honored by his nomination to the Arena Football Hall of Fame, but he does not want to let it get in the way of his main focus: winning.

"It's a great honor. I think my wife and my kids were more excited than I was, but it is a great honor to be in the same category as all these great players," McMillen said. "We are focusing on beating Philly, (the Rush play the Philadelphia Soul Saturday) though, not the hall of fame."

McMillen, an Oak Park native who now calls Naperville home, has always been the humble guy on his football teams. Fullback/linebacker is not a glamour position in a pass-heavy league like the AFL, but that's where McMillen first made his mark in the league.

Current Rush starting fullback J.J. Payne hopes McMillen can be the first fullback to earn the AFL's highest honor.

"Man, you feel good for all the fullbacks. To get a fullback into the hall of fame would be great," Payne said. "It's a gritty, grimy position; we only get a little bit of glory, so it is an honor for him and all fullbacks."

McMillen, who played 13 years in the league, appreciates what he accomplished as a player.

"For the position, it's great. I'll always believe the fullback and linebacker position was always the hardest back in the day because we had to play both ways," McMillen said. "If I make it in, it will be shocking because there were all these great players ahead of me. To be the first player to make it in at my position would be more shocking than exciting."

McMillen is not sure if his three AFL championships or his rushing records are why he earned this nomination, but he believes his long commitment to the league is what brought him this far.

"I was dumb enough to play 13 years," McMillen joked. "I played for so long. Being able to be a good teammate, to be successful, to play 12 out of the 13 seasons with a winning record, I think that's why they nominated me."

McMillen ranks third all-time with 1,508 rushing yards and second all-time with 484 rushing attempts. He is also the only player to win three AFL championships with three different teams, including 2006 with the Rush.

Voting started June 24 and will continue through July 26. Fans can vote online at www.arenafootball.com. The 2013 Arena Football Hall of Fame class will be announced during the 2013 conference championship weekend.

But that is not until August, which is why McMillen is only focused on winning right now. Although the Rush have had a season of turmoil led by its ownership changes, McMillen still has the team in playoff position with four weeks left in the regular season. His nomination for the hall of fame and the team's winning record are two of the brightest spots during a difficult year for the Chicago franchise.

If he gets in, McMillen, a former three-time all-American at Illinois Benedictine, will gladly accept the prestigious title of hall of famer. If he misses the cut, the third-year head coach has a game plan as well.

"If I don't make it, I'm going to wake up next day and have breakfast with my kids, enjoy being a dad and being a football coach."

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