Saints Legend Sam Mills Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame
Sam Mills, middle linebacker and member of the famous Dome Patrol, has been posthumously welcomed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Born in New Jersey, Mills attended Montclair State for college. He earned All-American honors but was cut from both pro teams he worked out for, the Cleveland Browns and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
The 5-foot-9 athlete had been told that his size would keep him from playing in the National Football League over and over again, but he never gave up. His play and perseverance earned him a spot in the burgeoning United States Football League.
He made big waves in the USFL, landing three All-USFL awards and back-to-back championships with the Philadelphia Stars under coach Jim Mora.
His connection with coach Mora would land him in the perfect spot for a huge career breakout. In 1985, after the USFL failed, Mora brought Mills to New Orleans to play for the Black and Gold.
Playing Left Inside Linebacker for the team alongside legends Rickey Jackson, Vaughan Johnson, and Pat Swilling, Mills filled out a linebacking corps that is still considered the undisputed best in the history of the NFL.
Mills joins Rickey Jackson in the Hall of Fame twelve years after Jackson became the first Saint to achieve the honor.
While playing for the Black and Gold, Mills was voted to four Pro-Bowls and landed two second-team All-Pro nods.
Do yourself a favor and watch some Dome Patrol highlights. Those dudes were the truth. As a matter of fact...
After an incredible nine seasons with the Saints, Mills joined the then expansion Carolina Panthers, where his mantra of "Keep Pounding" has become a slogan for the team as a whole.
For the young Panthers, Mills landed another Pro-Bowl, a first-team All-Pro award, and finished in the top five for Defensive Player of the Year twice. He also scored the touchdown that secured the franchise's first victory with a 36-yard pick six.
Mills retired in 1998 and joined the Panthers as an assistant coach, a role he played for 5 years.
In 2003, Mills was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was given three months to live.
In an emotional speech to his team, he stated,
"When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do: quit or keep pounding. I'm a fighter. I kept pounding. You're fighters too. Keep pounding!"
Mills lived 17 months longer than he was given.
He died in April 2005 at 45 years old.
Mills is proof that you can't judge anyone by the size of their body. You have to judge them by the size of their heart.
Sam Mills never gave up. He never quit.
Now he rests in Canton.