Class of 2022
Additional Career Statistics: Kickoff Returns: 2-12; Fumble
recoveries for TD: 3
1996 NFC – Green Bay Packers 30, Carolina Panthers 13
Mills started at left inside linebacker. He led the team with five tackles and nine assists. He also had one interception for 10 yards and one pass defensed.
All-Pro: 1991 (PFWA, SN, PW) · 1992 (PFWA, SN) · 1996 (AP, PFWA)
All-Pro Second Team: 1991 (AP, NEA) · 1992 (AP)
All-NFC: 1991 (PW) · 1992 (UPI, PW) · 1996 (UPI, PW)
All-NFC-Second Team: 1995 (UPI)
(5) – 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1997
Saints’ records held by Mills
(Records through the 1994 season, Mills’ final season with New Orleans)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Fumbles Recovered for TD, Career – 2
- [2nd] Most Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Career – 17
- [3rd] Longest Fumble Return – 76td (at N.Y. Jets, Dec. 26, 1992)
- [5th] Most Consecutive Games, Career – 92 (1987-1993)
Panthers’ records held by Mills
(Records through the 1997 season, Mills’ final season with Carolina)
- [1st] Most Forced Fumbles, Career – 7
- [1st] Most Forced Fumbles, Season – 6 (1995)
- [1st] Most Own or Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Career – 6
- [1st] Most Own or Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Season – 4 (1995)
- [1st] Most Tackles, Career – 385
- [Tied for 1st] Most Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Game – 2 (at San Francisco, Nov. 5, 1995)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Fumbles Recovered for TD, Career – 1
- [Tied for 1st] Most Fumbles Recovered for TD, Season – 1 (1995)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Fumbles Recovered for TD, Game – 1 (vs. N.Y. Jets, Oct. 15, 1995)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Own or Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Season – 4 (1995)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Own or Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Game – 2 (at San Francisco, Nov. 5, 1995)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Forced Fumbles, Game – 2 (at New England, Oct. 29, 1995)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Fumble Returns for Touchdown, Career – 1
- [Tied for 1st] Most Fumble Returns for Touchdown, Game – 1 (1996)
- [2nd] Most Own or Opponents Fumbles Recovered, Career – 6
- [2nd] Longest Fumble Return – 41td (at Houston, Nov. 24, 1996)
- [2nd] Most Tackles, Career – 138 (1996)
- [Tied for 2nd] Most Tackles, Game – 14 (vs. St. Louis, Dec. 20, 1997)
- [3rd] Most Tackles, Career – 130 (1995)
- [3rd] Most Sacks, Career – 10.0
Team Statistical Championships
Tackle Titles: 1995, 1996
1987 New Orleans Saints.......... 12-3-0 (2nd)
1988 New Orleans Saints............ 10-6-0 (3rd)
1989 New Orleans Saints............. 9-7-0 (3rd)
1990 New Orleans Saints............ 8-8-0 (2nd)
1991 New Orleans Saints.......... 11-5-0 (1st)
1992 New Orleans Saints.......... 12-4-0 (2nd)
1993 New Orleans Saints............. 8-8-0 (2nd)
1994 New Orleans Saints............. 7-9-0 (2nd)
1995 Carolina Panthers................ 7-9-0 (4th)
1996 Carolina Panthers............. 12-4-0 (1st)
1997 Carolina Panthers................ 7-9-0 (2nd)
Qualified for Postseason in Bold
Birthdate: June 3, 1959
Birthplace: Neptune, New Jersey
Died: April 18, 2005
High School: Long Branch (NJ)
Pro Career: 12 seasons, 181 games
On the surface, the Sam Mills story is a story of a man who was told that he wasn't good enough — good enough to play college football. Or that he wasn't big enough to play professional football. And at the age of 27, he wasn't young enough for the NFL.
And yet, here we are today celebrating him. That's because Sam worked harder than his peers. He took advantage of every opportunity. He became a legendary athlete. But he never forgot he was just a man.
Sam treated everyone with the respect and dignity they deserved. He visited his mother and siblings in New Jersey as often as he could. He kept his friends from high school and college. He made new friends at his cancer treatments. He talked to everyone, and I mean everyone. He told dad jokes and loved childish pranks.
I don't recall him ever saying no to an autograph, a picture or a handshake. He knew the staff at the practice facilities and the stadiums. He would sneak away and visit people that he barely knew in the hospital.
He made it to his kids' high school football games, track meets and band competitions. He would go bowling with anyone who asked. He would ask about your day, and he would listen because he cared.
From the Philadelphia Stars to the New Orleans Saints to the Carolina Panthers, if you were working hard at anything, Sam would let you know he appreciated your hard work.
You could be a teammate, a coach, a ball boy, a security guard, he would make you feel seen. It's no wonder that Sam inspired so many people or that the Panthers adopted his motto, “Keep Pounding.”
Sam was always ready to show you what hard work looked like. He led by example and people followed. He was more than just a great football player: He was a father, a friend, a husband and a leader who always kept pounding, no matter what the odds were.
So thank you for this honor, for believing in Sam and for helping to keep his story alive. Keep pounding, everyone. That's what Sam would want you to do.