Key member of Penn State's unbeaten '94 football team dealing with life-threatening malady

MIKE COOPER
Erie Times-News (TNS)
Penn State

Brian Milne, who overcame Hodgkin's lymphoma to experience football success at the high school, college and professional levels, is dealing with another life-threatening malady.

The former Penn State player, now 48, posted on his Twitter account that he suffered a stroke on June 2. The 1991 Fort LeBoeuf graduate was transferred from his home in the Cincinnati area to Ashland, Ohio, and then to Ohio Health Center in Columbus.

“I later found out it was cerebellum stroke, much like (former National Football League linebacker) Teddy Bruschi's,” Milne said. “I also learned I've had a hole in my heart since birth and with all the tests and surgeries fighting Hodgkin's disease, no one found this hole. I'm a very private person, but with this I will overcome and be stronger in the end.

“I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. Special thanks to my wife Tammy Jean and (son) Connor for being by my side.”

Milne added that surgery to close the hole is planned for July.

Milne is scheduled for induction into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame during ceremonies scheduled the weekend of Oct. 29 in Pittsburgh. He was voted to the 2020 class, but the official induction was postponed until this year because of COVID-19.

In 2004, Milne was voted into the Metropolitan Erie Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. His perseverance and recovery from Hodgkin's to eventually play in the NFL will be forever remembered in Erie County's sports lore.

Milne was a record-setting running back for LeBoeuf, but his March 1990 diagnosis cost him his senior season. However, he not only recovered enough in the spring of 1991 to resume throwing the shot put and discus for the school's track and field program. He also set a PIAA record that stands to this day.

Milne became a three-time discus gold medalist, winning the first one at the state's Class 3A level and the last two at Class 2A, with a toss of 206 feet, 3 inches.

The 1991 state meet at Shippensburg University also saw Milne claim his second shot put championship.

The late Joe Paterno, who formerly recruited Milne to Penn State University's football team, informed Milne he would still be offered a scholarship even if he never played a down for the Nittany Lions.

Milne not only accepted the offer but became a short yardage specialist out of Penn State's backfield. The fullback's three seasons there included the 1994 team that finished 12-0 with a victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

The Indianapolis Colts picked Milne in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL draft. He was released soon after but then signed with Cincinnati for the first of three full seasons with the Bengals.

Milne briefly played for the Seattle Seahawks in 1999 and then a final season with the 2000 New Orleans Saints. His fumbled punt recovery late in their NFC Wild Card Game vs. the St. Louis Rams clinched the franchise's first postseason victory.

Life after sports for Milne has included working as a police officer in the Cincinnati area. Last year, he was the freshman offensive line coach for Archbishop Moeller's nationally renowned football program. Connor Milne competed a senior with Moeller's 2019 varsity team.