Mark McMillian

Trust Spotlights

Mark McMillian


Mark McMillian is back on national television this Sunday, the night of Super Bowl LVII, but for a reason that has nothing to do with football. The former NFL cornerback, who played both for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, will be competing on season 2 of Gordon Ramsey’s Next Level Chef, airing on FOX immediately after the biggest game of the year.

Photo courtesy of FOX

With Next Level Chef receiving over 10,000 applications—and with most of the applicants having some sort of culinary training—McMillian never thought that he would make it onto the show. “There's worldwide chefs from across the country,” he said, and “I’m just a guy that barbecues in the backyard.”

Yet, McMillian not only ended up being one of the eighteen chefs selected but was also chosen to be a part of Gordon Ramsey’s team on the show. Having been a fan of cooking shows and Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” for years, McMillian couldn’t wait to get started and cook alongside a major star in the food industry. “It’s like being drafted,” he laughed.

For this season of his life off the field and in the kitchen, McMillian said he is utilizing both the lessons he learned from the game and his competitive nature to excel. “It’s a high-stress show,” he said, so “thank goodness I went through the process of playing in the League because this show definitely tested those nerves.”

McMillian sees Next Level Chef as a dream come true, and given that he played for both teams competing in Super Bowl LVII, he couldn’t imagine a more fitting time for the show to premiere: “You couldn’t script this any better.”

On and off the field, McMillian carries with him both a contagious smile and a strong work ethic, both of which can be tied back to him being an underdog most of his football career. “I got cut from youth football which is unheard of,” he said, “the coach said I was too small.” But McMillian wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He decided to take on the role of the “water boy” and even earned a trophy for all he did for his team.

While his hunger for the game never quit, it wasn’t until his senior year of high school that he officially played in a game. At 5’7”, 147 pounds, McMillian was constantly discredited as a competitive cornerback. Yet, his determination to play and his indifference to being doubted led him to earn a scholarship to the University of Alabama, playing under Coach Gene Stallings. From there, his speed and impressive performance at a NFL Combine amounted to him being the 272nd overall draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992.

He said he saw the League as another opportunity to prove himself, and he went in with the mindset of wanting to show the other thirty-one teams that they would regret discounting his potential.

Once in the League, McMillian said he was initially overlooked but worked up the ranks by studying the Eagles’ starters and learning from their mistakes, and by the time he got his first opportunity to play, he was ready.

In his NFL debut with the Eagles, he had “a really good game,” and before he knew it, he was starting for the number one defense in the League. That game was a full-circle moment for him, one in which the ten-year-old cut from youth football had made it to the pinnacle of the sport.

Go attack life like you're on the football field and keep that mentality. Work hard and good things will happen.

In addition to the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, McMillian played for the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers over the span of his eight years in the League. His on-field legacy is still highly regarded today, and his nickname of the “Mighty Mouse” has followed McMillian everywhere. “I've been blessed, you know, to play this game for eight years,” he said, “at my size, you'll probably never see it again… a guy 5’7”, 147 pounds playing defensive back in the NFL.”

When McMillian was transitioning out of the NFL, however, he said it was a very difficult time in his life. From having to create his own daily routine to battling mental health struggles that came with the major life transition, McMillian said he looked to The Trust for assistance.

“The Trust was able to help me out,” he said, which allowed him the support to be the best husband and father that he could be. “If you're feeling off or you're not on-base, ask for help,” he said. His own personal struggles are tools that he now uses to encourage other Former Players to get the assistance they need in their transitions out of the League and into their next opportunities. “The services of The Trust saved me and my family a lot of heartache,” he said, and “got me focused back on the right track so that now I'm able to be on TV and be comfortable.”

There are plenty of services out there available to us. We just need to tap into those resources and just stay with it.

“I've been out of the game for over 20-some years and now all of a sudden I'm on national TV,” McMillian said. He hopes his story and success off the field can encourage other Former Players to find their next passions and to pour all the lessons they have learned from the League into future endeavors.

In addition to his upcoming appearance on Next Level Chef, McMillian is a host on the Raiders Pregame Live for CBS, is the owner of the highly successful Grill’n McMillian, which sells sauces and rubs, and is a philanthropist in his Las Vegas community.

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