Carolina Panthers: Mills’ legacy more than just Keep Pounding Day

Dean Jones
(Credit: Al Bello/ALLSPORT) Sam Mills
(Credit: Al Bello/ALLSPORT) Sam Mills /
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Sam Mills, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Sam Mills /

The Keep Pounding Day initiative organized by the Carolina Panthers is a lasting reminder of the legacy left behind on and off the field by Sam Mills.

Keep Pounding Day is something the Carolina Panthers felt rightfully compelled to do in recognition of the huge impact left by linebacker Sam Mills. And not just for his actions on the field.

The 12-year veteran lost his battle with intestinal cancer in 2005 aged just 45. Mills fought the disease with the same tenacity and vigor that was a key component of his success in the NFL.

Mills was originally taken on by the New Orleans Saints after most experts deemed him too small to play linebacker at the next level. As he did throughout his life, the player defied the odds and became one of the most accomplished operating within the defensive second level.

After a nine-year stay in New Orleans, Mills left the franchise to sign a deal with the Panthers. He ended up playing three seasons in Carolina and won over the team’s loyal fanbase thanks in no small part to his exceptional dedication to his craft.

Mills eventually finished his glittering time in the NFL with 1,265 combined tackles, 363 of which were solo. He also managed to 20.5 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, and 11 interceptions.

His time with the Panthers resulted in 331 combined tackles (248 solo), ten sacks, six forced fumbles, and seven interceptions. Mills also left a huge impression within the community, doing whatever he could to help those less fortunate.

The linebacker went to the Pro Bowl five times, with his last selection coming at the age of 37 in 1996. Not bad for a 5-foot-9 prospect that nobody gave a chance.