Former Panthers LB Sam Mills inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

FILE - Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills, front, celebrates with teammate Matt Elliott...
FILE - Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills, front, celebrates with teammate Matt Elliott after his interception in the final moments of the Panthers' 26-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., in this Sunday Jan. 5, 1997, file photo.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Published: Aug. 6, 2022 at 1:06 PM EDT
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CANTON, Ohio (WMBF) - One of the most prolific players in the history of the Carolina Panthers is now enshrined in football lore.

Sam Mills was inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 during an enshrinement ceremony on Saturday in Canton, Ohio. The induction was complete with the unveiling of a bronze bust in the late linebacker’s likeness.

Mills, who was a standout at Montclair State University, joined the Panthers during the team’s expansion season in 1995. This was after a stint in the USFL led to eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints as a member of the famed “Dome Patrol” defense.

Mills became a veteran force on the team during his time in Carolina, starting every game during his tenure. He also helped clinch the Panthers’ first-ever regular-season win by intercepting a shovel pass and running it back for a touchdown against the New York Jets on Oct. 15, 1995.

Mills was a First-Team All-Pro selection in the 1996 season and was also selected to his fifth-career Pro Bowl. He retired following that season, finishing his career with over 1,265 combined tackles, 20.5 sacks, 22 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

He went on to become a linebackers coach in Carolina from 1998-2004 following his retirement.

Mills is also credited with coining the Panthers’ catchphrase, “Keep Pounding,” while motivating the team during a 2003 playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Mills died in 2005 after a nearly two-year battle with intestinal cancer. His number 51 was the first retired by the Panthers in the season following his death. He was also the first player to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Honor.

He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

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