Millen and Long Put Late Hit on Patriots’ GM
This time, the Raiders’ expectations didn’t end with an expectoration.
This time, they ended with linebacker Matt Millen employing his helmet to slug New England General Manager Pat Sullivan in the head as Sullivan and Raider defensive end Howie Long waged a shouting and shoving match in the Coliseum tunnel late Sunday afternoon.
“I saw some guy swing at Howie,” Millen said later. “I didn’t know who the moron was, so I swung at him.”
Informed that it was Patriots’ general manager and son of team owner Billy Sullivan, Millen said, “Oh, then it was a good hit.”
Patriots security personnel disentangled the 33-year-old Sullivan before the incident became a full-scale melee. Sullivan later wore a Band Aid to protect a cut above his left eye.
He acknowledged that he had been riding Long verbally from the New England sidelines during the course of a game that ended with the Patriots eliminating the Raiders from the NFL’s playoff tournament, 27-20.
It also ended with a jubilant Sullivan and Son again making no effort to hide their dislike for Raider owner Al Davis and his organization, and it ended with an incident of the type that came to characterize the Raiders’ strange and frustrating season.
In fact, there was almost as much action in the Coliseum tunnel during the 1985-86 season as there was on the field.
Long had a postgame argument with an assistant coach of the San Francisco 49ers in August, while linebacker Rod Martin, provoked, he said, by a similar incident during the game, spit in the face of Seattle’s Keith Millard in December.
Of Sunday’s confrontation, Long felt he was justified in seeking an answer for Sullivan’s sideline behavior. He said he never intended to start a fight.
“I kind of talked like I was going to hit him,” Long said. “But I just wanted to see him jump because I knew he was such a wimp. Spineless. That’s pretty much what he is.
“Anytime he’d like to back it up in a closet and waive all legal rules, he could give me a ring. I’m listed.”
Long said that Millen became involved after Sullivan got a little too close.
“I pushed him and he grabbed my facemask,” Long said. “That’s when Matt got a little hair of the twerp’s head.”
Long was just heating up.
“I’d like to see them win,” he said of the Patriots, "(although) not for their classless . . . owner. I don’t know how a a guy of John Hannah’s stature could play for such a classless ass.
“I mean, class is not something that runs high in that family, apparently. He was mouthing off the whole game, pretty much like a water boy would. It seems like he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth and has never really worked for anything.
“They had 80, 90 people on the sidelines. . . . I thought he was just a latcher on. He was mouthing off, saying things like, ‘Come on Long, where are you? Where are you? Where are you?’
“It’s a shame they allow a kid--and I know he’s 33 or 34 but he’s going on 12--to conduct himself in the manner he did on the sidelines.”
Informed of Long’s remarks, Sullivan smiled, shrugged and said: “We won. We’re working this week. He’s not.”
Of the remarks he directed at Long during the game, Sullivan alluded to an inherent pride in his Irish blood and said: “I’m tired of guys like Howie Long telling us how we should run our football team and second guessing how we do it. I’ve heard Long say that half the guys on the New England team would rather be playing for the Raiders and if he was with New England he wouldn’t be half the player he is now.
“I don’t think it’s any more indiscreet of me to yell at him during the game than it is of him to make comments on how we should run our team. I yelled at a lot of the Raiders. All I said to Howie was that we were coming after him, that our line was controlling the ball.
“He apparently got tired of it just like I’ve gotten tired of his remarks. He came over and told me that he’d see me after the game.”
The average-sized Sullivan said he was walking up the tunnel when the 6-5, 270 pound Long confronted him.
“If Howie Long wanted to get at it with me,” Sullivan said, “he would have taken his helmet off and done it. I don’t think he wanted a fight, and I know I didn’t.
“As for Millen, I never saw him coming. He grabbed my hair, jerked my head back and hit me with his helmet.
“It was a blindside, a real brave move.”
Sullivan said his own distaste for the Raiders and Davis predates Long. He said it stemmed from the 1978 incident in which receiver Darryl Stingley was permanently paralyzed on a hit by the Raiders’ now retired Jack Tatum.
“It was foolish for a preseason game,” he said. “But what bothers me even more is that the Raiders have developed a mentality which does not allow them to apologize or display emotion except for one guy . . . (then Coach) John Madden.”
A beaming Billy Sullivan, Pat’s father, stood a few yards away. He had been quoted in a wire service story that appeared in Sunday’s editions of The Times as saying that a win over the Raiders would mean more to him than anything except a Super Bowl win, that he considered Al Davis a liar who didn’t play by the rules.
“I wasn’t misquoted,” Sullivan said Sunday, adding that Davis, in response to Sullivan’s testimony on behalf of the NFL in the Raiders’ antitrust suit, had then delivered a “thinly veiled attack on our family” by journeying East to testify in a suit involving Patriot stockholders.
Sullivan said he had a commitment to the other owners to testify in the antitrust suit.
“I told Al that we were all part of the league and that I wasn’t going to welsh on my commitment,” Sullivan said. “I told him that no one put a gun to my head and made me testify.
“But he wouldn’t listen. He kept letting the word get to me that if I testified against him, he’d testify against me in a suit that has nothing to do with him. He came East wearing his Darth Vader uniform, then appeared on the stand dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy. That’s what I call him now . . . Little Lord Fauntleroy
“Let’s just say that it hasn’t been a very pleasant relationship. I’m not a saint, but I like to play by the rules. I mean, Al’s ‘Commitment to Excellence’ makes me smile. I’d rather have a slogan that said, ‘Commitment to Integrity.’ ”
Sullivan paused, then added, “Yes, I relish this victory more than anybody.”
On that, the senior Sullivan might get an argument from his wounded son.