Detroit Lions president Matt Millen apologized Monday for calling Kansas City Chiefs receiver Johnnie Morton a "faggot" in front of fans and other players during a heated exchange following Sunday's Chiefs-Lions game. Millen was talking with Kansas City players and coaches outside their locker room after the Chiefs' 45-17 victory when he ran into Morton, who had been cut from the Lions by Millen after the 2001 season. Millen said he congratulated Morton but was greeted with an insult from the player. "Unfortunately, I retaliated with a derogatory term directed toward Johnnie," Millen said in a statement. "I apologize if I offended anyone. It was certainly not meant to do anything other than express my frustration and disappointment."
Morton apologized for his part in the exchange but said he was disappointed by Millen's choice of words. "What he said is demeaning and bigoted," Morton told The Kansas City Star. "Jeremy Shockey got in trouble for saying it about a coach [Bill Parcells], and now we have a president of a team making statements like that. It's totally unacceptable. I have gay friends, and I don't even joke around with them like that." Last summer Shockey called Parcells a "homo" in a New York magazine interview.
Millen has been the focus of several controversies in his three years heading the Lions, who are 4-10 this season. He was fined $200,000 this summer by the NFL because he didn't follow the league's minority hiring policy when he hired coach Steve Mariucci. During the 2002 season, Millen called an unidentified player a "devout coward." Millen later apologized.