Roughriders head coach Ken Miller reveals he is a prostate cancer survivor
CALGARY It was an extremely public moment for an intensely private man.
Ken Miller, the reserved but always forthright head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, revealed Wednesday that he is a prostate cancer survivor. The disclosure took place during the head coaches’ media conference for Sunday’s Grey Cup game between the Riders and the Montreal Alouettes.
Miller was responding to a question about why he was late in joining the Toronto Argonauts in 2002. Miller explained that his late arrival was due to him completing his commitments as a high school biology teacher.
Miller then added that he was also delayed because he was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Miller declined surgery and instead had the disease treated with proton beams.
“It was a kind of treatment that they considered experimental,” said the 68 year old Miller. “I was involved in it for eight weeks. That’s what really kept me from coming for a few weeks.”
Miller added that the treatments were successful.
“My PSA numbers . I hardly have any more,” said Miller. “I haven’t had anything related to that for a number of years.”
The small part of the media conference with Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman revealed the true Miller. Through his two years as the Riders’ head coach he has rarely ducked a question or said “no comment.” Miller’s candor wasn’t unusual on Wednesday. It was the content of the statement that was so surprising.
“He just doesn’t like to talk about himself,” said Jim Hopson, the Riders’ president and CEO. “I know it’s something that he didn’t want to come out and he didn’t feel that it was needed. For Kenny to say ‘Shoot . . .’ that was pretty strong.”
News of Miller’s successful battle with prostate cancer disease surprised some of his players.
“That makes me believe that he’s a stronger person than I thought he was,” said Riders defensive tackle Marcus Adams. “Anybody who has survived cancer is a very strong person because that stuff is no joke. Now it makes me want to go through a brick wall even more for him. A man of that stature, who never talked about it and still be the person that he is today . it makes me love him even more.”
There were other reasons for Miller’s late move into the professional coaching ranks. He spent his early coaching career football and baseball at the high school and university levels in southern California. Then Miller went through what he termed an epiphany.
“I felt it was more important for me to be a good father than chase the dream,” said Miller.
Miller joined the University of Redlands in southern California as a part time coach in 1977 and made the move to head football coach in 1984. He also coached baseball and eventually finished his career with Redlands as the offensive co ordinator and baseball coach in 2001.
“That meant we were able to live hollister clothing in the same house for 20 years,” said Miller. “After I finished my college career . . . the kids were grown up. Then I was able to become a football gypsy and live my dream.”
That dream meant joining Gary Etcheverry and the Argonauts. Etcheverry, the Riders’ current defensive co ordinator, was Toronto’s head coach at the time. The two had coached together at Redlands and had become good friends.
They were so friendly that Miller agreed to come north, essentially for free. He even slept in the trailers that the Argos have at their training facility in Mississauga, Ont.
“I bought a sleeping bag that I kept r hollister clothing ol hollister clothing led up behind the desk,” said Miller. “I would work during the day and when I got tired, I unrolled it and went to sleep.”
That changed when Etcheverry was fired after a 4 8 start and replaced by Michael (Pinball) Clemons. Miller asked for more money so he could leave the trailer life behind him.
“I was willing to sleep on the floor for a friend but not for other people,” Miller said with a chuckle.
Miller made the move into the professional ranks wit hollister clothing h the blessings of his wife, Maureen. They have been married 10 years. Maureen said Ken’s willingness to sleep in a trailer was an example of how much he wanted to coach at the professional level.
“We’re both living the dream together,” said Maureen.
The Millers met at Redlands. Between them they have five children %A0Bob and Kail are from Ken’s side and Michael, Melania and Colleen are from Maureen’s side. All of the children reside in the United States.
Miller remained with the Argonauts through the 2006 season. In 2007, he agreed to join the Riders as the offensive co ordinator under head coach Kent Austin. Austin and Miller had worked together with the Argos before re uniting.
That Riders’ partnership lasted one season and paid off in the Riders’ 23 19 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2007 Grey Cup game. Austin left in ensuing off season to become the offensive co ordinator at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi.
Miller was promoted to head coach early in 2008 and in his second season has the Riders in the Grey Cup. He has done that with a cool and collected approach but he hasn’t always been that way.
“The man I worked with first at the University of Redlands %A0Frank Serrao %A0was really a kind, gentle person who cared tremendously for his players,” said Miller. “Up to that point, I was a yeller and a screamer. As I’ve matured, I’ve become more like him. He has had the greatest impact on my coaching style.”