The quintessential image of Sean Millington?

Eyes burning behind helmet bars, two arms clutching the football, powerful legs rumbling for extra yards, knocking aside one chin-strap rattled defender while two or three others hang from the sides.

Not an image all that different from other great running backs, except for one distinguishing feature. This image of Millington was the same in the first minute of the first quarter as it was the last minute of the fourth.

“Maybe a guy started out at nine and I started out at seven on the scale, but I was still at seven at the end of the game and he was at six,” Millington explains of his unceasing work ethic, energy, and determination. “In the end, I would win.”

He could just as easily be referring to his football career as a whole.

Born in Vancouver and raised in Germany, Barbados, and Trinidad before returning to Canada, Millington’s introduction to football was caused by a scheduling quirk. Attending Carson Graham Secondary, rugby switched from an autumn sport to the spring, leaving him looking for something new. He tried out for football as an offensive and defensive lineman. Finally convincing coach Earl Henderson to play him at running back his senior year, Millington turned the heads of salivating scouts and dejected defenders. By years end an athletic scholarship to Simon Fraser University beckoned.

After two years refining his game and bulking up behind future CFLer Orville Lee, Millington cracked SFU’s starting line-up and left countless school rushing records in his wake. Edmonton drafted him first overall in the 1990 CFL draft. After a failed NFL try-out with the New York Giants and never quite fitting into Edmonton’s plans, Millington joined the Lions a year later as a special teams player. Within two years, Millington and Cory Philpot formed one of the most dynamic backfield duos in club history.

‘The Diesel,’ as Millington became known, thundered his way through the 1990s, playing key roles in two Lions’ Grey Cup championships (1994, 2000) earning Most Valuable Canadian honours in the latter. Twice recognized with the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian Award (1997, 2000), the 1997 season in particular displayed Millington’s emergence as the Canadian game’s most dominant fullback. In an August 15th game against Saskatchewan, he set a BC Lions franchise record running for 212 yards on twenty-six carries.

Statistically, Millington’s thirteen CFL seasons rank him as one of the greatest Canadian running backs of all time. The three-time CFL All-Star compiled 6086 yards on 1129 carries (5.4 yard average) placing him twenty-fourth all-time on the CFL rushing list just behind another Lions rushing legend—Willie Fleming. Millington remains the second all-time Canadian rusher behind Normie Kwong and the Lions’ career leader in rushing touchdowns. His seventy-five career rushing touchdowns stand sixth all-time behind a roll call of legendary Hall of Famers that put his career in true perspective: George Reed, Mike Pringle, Damon Allen, Kwong, and Matt Dunigan.

Millington is the first individual in BC Sports Hall of Fame history to be inducted twice in the same year—both as an individual and as a member of a team (1994 BC Lions).

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.