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 grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts and played high school football at Salem High School, where he earned All-State honors in football during each of his four seasons of play.
Millner later played for three prep schools, including Malvern Preparatory School, until Notre Dame recruited him in 1933.
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 Army and 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.
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.
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.
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. 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 the All-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.
|Formerly the Boston Braves and the Boston Redskins • Founded in 1932 • Plays in Landover, Maryland • Headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia|
|Division championships (12)|
|Super Bowl appearances (5)|
|League championships (5)|
|Hall of Fame players|
|Current league affiliations|
|Washington Redskins Ring of Fame |
Head Coach 1971–77 • Cliff Battles
RB 1932–37 • Sammy Baugh
QB 1937–52 • Gene Brito
DE, 1951–53, 1955–58 • Larry Brown
RB 1969–76 • Dave Butz
DT 1975–88 • Gary Clark
WR 1985–92 • Jack Kent Cooke
Owner 1961–97 • Bill Dudley
RB, 1950–51, 1953 • Wayne Curry
Prince George's County Executive 1994–2002 • Pat Fischer
CB 1968–77 • Joe Gibbs
Head Coach, 1981–92, 2004–07 • Darrell Green
CB 1983–2002 • Russ Grimm
G 1981–91 • Chris Hanburger
LB 1965–78 • Ken Harvey
LB 1994–98 • Len Hauss
C 1964–77 • Phil Hochberg PA Announcer 1963–2000 • Ken Houston
S 1973–80 • Sam Huff
LB, 1964–67, 1969 • Joe Jacoby
T/G 1981–93 • Dick James
RB 1956–63 • Sonny Jurgensen
QB 1964–74 • Charlie Justice
RB, 1950, 1952–54 • Billy Kilmer
QB 1971–78 • Eddie LeBaron
QB, 1952–53, 1955–59 • Vince Lombardi
Head Coach 1969 • Dexter Manley
DE 1981–89 • Charles Mann
DE 1983–93 • George Preston Marshall
Team Founder & Owner 1932–69 • Wayne Millner
End, 1936–41, 1945 • Bobby Mitchell
Flanker 1962–68 • Brian Mitchell
RB/KR 1990–99 • Art Monk
WR 1980–93 • Mark Moseley
PK 1974–86 • Brig Owens
DB 1966–77 • Vince Promuto
G 1960–70 • John Riggins
RB, 1976–79, 1981–85 • Jerry Smith
TE 1965–77 • Charley Taylor
WR 1964–77 • Sean Taylor
S 2004–07 • Joe Theismann
QB 1974–85 • Lamar "Bubba" Tyer Head Athletic Trainer, 1971–2002, 2004–08 • Doug Williams
QB 1986–89 •