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Northville’s Miller integral part of Detroit sports landscape for 25 years

 Northville’s Miller integral part of Detroit sports landscape for 25 years

Dan Miller has been a member of the Fox 2 sports team since 1997.

Popular Fox 2 sports director/anchor has grown to appreciate area sports teams, win or lose

During his 25 years as a member of the Fox 2 sports team, Northville resident Dan Miller has woven himself into the fabric of the Detroit sports scene.

When the local teams are winning, the fabric is velvety smooth.

When they’re not, well, the texture is more like denim: not quite as smooth as velvet, but infinitely durable.

“I love it when I’m walking out of Ford Field after a Lions’ victory and there are still fans milling around, savoring the win,” said Miller, who has been the Lions play-by-play announcer since 2005. “It’s like everywhere I go after a win — gas stations, restaurants, grocery shopping — there’s this sense of community the Lions generate.

“Understandably, when they’re not winning, it’s the opposite; but when they are, there’s nothing better.”

Miller and his wife Cindy moved their family to Canton in 1997 from the Washington, D.C. area, where Miller was born, raised and secured his first broadcasting job. At the time, he didn’t expect the southeast-Michigan roots to grow as deeply as they have.

The Millers moved to Northville in 2003 and haven’t thought seriously about relocating since.

“When I first got hired by Fox 2, I thought we’d be here two years then move back to the D.C. area,” Miller said. “In my mind, I figured we’d go back home and I’d be a sportscaster in the place where I grew up. But once we lived here a while, it became home.

“I’ve had other opportunities come up, but Cindy and I have always said, ‘How could we do better than what we have here?’ We love Northville. All four of my kids went to Northville schools, which were great in terms of a support system. I like to golf and there are so many great courses close by. We have a pool right across the street from our house. Three of my four kids have left, so we’ve looked into downsizing, but where would we go that’s better than this?”

The Miller family from left Robby Dan Cindy Rikki Sammi and Tony

The Millers have raised four incredibly-successful children: Sammi, 28, a national event producer at Pontiac-based United Wholesale Mortgage; Rikki, 26, who works as a press secretary for a U.S. congresswoman in Washington, D.C.; Tony, 25, an engineer for Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colorado; and Robby, 20, who is taking courses in the computer-security field.

When it comes to being passionate about sports, the apples didn’t fall far from the tree in the Miller household.

“My wife loves football (Cindy attends all Lions home games, Dan shared), my kids love football,” Miller said, smiling. “When I’d have a Saturday off in the fall, my daughters would come downstairs and ask, ‘What college football games are on today?’ We’d sit around the TV, they’d have their computers on their lap and we’d watch games. When the noon games were about to end, they’d ask, ‘What games are on at 3:30?’ It was heaven for me.”

When Robby was 3, Dan and Cindy recognized their youngest child’s development wasn’t quite where it should be.

“He was our fourth child, so we realized he wasn’t hitting some of the marks he should have been hitting,” Miller said. “When we initially brought it up with the doctors, they’d say, ‘Oh, he doesn’t talk a lot because the other kids are talking for him’, things like that. We knew after a while that something wasn’t right so we took him to Henry Ford (Hospital) and had him tested.”

Robby Miller was diagnosed with autism, which hasn’t stopped him from thriving. Not long after the diagnosis, he attended Livonia’s Perrinville Early Childhood Center before transitioning to Northville Public Schools.

“It’s not easy; obviously, there are challenges along the way,” Dan Miller said. “You don’t know what it is until you’re in it. You deal with it and figure out the best course of action that will allow your child to maximize his potential.

“Robby is very independent. He graduated from Northville High School and is taking computer security courses now. He got his driver’s license, which was an amazing day. His sisters and brother have been amazing with him. We’re all very proud of Robby because he’s done so much on his own.”

Miller said his and Cindy’s respect for educators for children with special needs is off the charts.

“Even looking back on Robby’s years at Perrinville, that was so good for him,” Miller said. “He made friends there that to this day he still hangs out with.”

LIVING A DREAM

Miller’s zest for sportscasting first surfaced when he was 8 and living in Reston, Virginia.

“My family had moved from College Park, Maryland, into this amazing neighborhood with all these kids my age,” Miller reflected. “All of a sudden, I was immersed in sports. That’s all the kids in my new neighborhood did. We were outside all day playing baseball, basketball, football. I fell in love with all of it and I started reading the sports pages.”

Miller also started watching a certain sportscaster on WTOP-TV who played a role in changing the course of his life.

“I used to watch Warner Wolf,” Miller said. “I liked his style so much, I started imitating him. He had a Washington football show on Monday nights that was must-see TV. Warner was the guy who got me wanting to do what I’m doing today.”

Miller not only got a chance to meet Wolf; they were colleagues at a Washington, D.C. sports-talk radio station in the mid-90s.

“We actually applied for the same weekend sportscasting job at an ABC affiliate in D.C.,” Miller reflected. “It’s a long story, but Warner was offered the job and ultimately had to turn it down because of a contractual situation at the station he formerly worked for.

“Once he turned down the job, they offered it to me. The next Monday, when I walked into the radio station, the first person to congratulate me was none other than Warner Wolf.”

Miller’s warm, friendly, never-over-the-top broadcasting style has resonated with southeast-Michigan sports fans, even during the darkest losing streaks.

He said he is often approached by fans — whether it be at a restaurant, walking to his car after a Lions game or playing golf at Meadowbrook Country Club — who want to offer their thoughts and advice on how Detroit’s teams can notch more W’s.

“Everyone who has ever approached me has been extremely nice,” Miller said. “Most of them want to talk about the Lions because they’re usually the hot-button topic. The fans will tell you what they think of a certain team or how to fix a team.

“I understand 100% their willingness to want to talk sports. It comes with both my jobs. Hey, I work in sports, this is a huge sports town. People want to talk about sports.”

Miller said he couldn’t have scripted the past 25 years of his career any better than the way they have unfolded.

“I’m so blessed,” he said. “In this business, you can make a move to Detroit — or any city really — like I did and it doesn’t work due to reasons beyond your control. When I came to Detroit, so many things worked out in my favor. I work with amazing people, I live in an amazing community.

“I know it’s cliche, but I’m living a dream. The kid in me dreamed I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now. It’s something I’ll never take for granted.”

If you have a story idea for SocialHouseNews.com, please contact Ed Wright at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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