Why is 'Keep Pounding' mantra so important to the Carolina Panthers?

It's formed the fabric of the franchise.
Keep Pounding sign at Bank of America Stadium
Keep Pounding sign at Bank of America Stadium / Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Keep Pounding.

Two words. One significant meaning.

The Carolina Panthers don't have much illustrious history to show for their three-decade NFL existence. They haven't put back-to-back winning seasons together and don't have a Super Bowl to show for their efforts despite coming close. Keep Pounding is something fans have clung to as a semblance of hope. No matter the adversity placed in front of you, there's always a way to fight back.

This started with the iconic Sam Mills. The former linebacker turned coach was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and given three months to live in 2003. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and taking time away from the team, he remained part of the setup and worked with his customary enthusiasm and determination despite the grave predicament he faced away from football.

What does 'Keep Pounding' mean to the Carolina Panthers?

Mills was asked to speak in front of the team after the initial three months he was given were up. He told them no matter what life throws at them, to Keep Pounding. This carried a huge sentimental weight within the locker room. Carolina made the Super Bowl that year before losing narrowly to the New England Patriots.

As it turned out, Mills' fighting qualities meant he lived 17 months more than the initial prognosis of medical experts. He eventually lost his fight in 2005 aged just 45. However, his legacy will live through the ages.

His statue remains a prominent feature outside Bank of America Stadium. Mills' number is the only one retired by the Panthers so far. The Keep Pounding message is being passed down from generation to generation of players who know how important the mantra is to the organization and its fans.

Keep Pounding Day also allows Mills to be remembered every year. It's a chance for players and staff to get out in the community. To do their part and embrace the embodiment of all that is good. After all, the message doesn't just resonate with football players. It applies to all forms of life.

Battle in the face of adversity. Push forward positively no matter the circumstance. Give it absolutely everything no matter how bleak things look. That's why Keep Pounding means so much to the region.

The old ways were almost discarded when Matt Rhule took over. New general manager Dan Morgan - who played under Mills - made it his top priority to restore the culture that formed the fabric of football in the Carolinas. He wants his old coach to look down on him with pride. He wants the Panthers' logo to be feared around the league as it was when Mills influenced proceedings on and off the field heavily.

Mills rightfully earned his place among the NFL immortals with enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2022. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. That's a testament to the impact made by the man - not just the revered player and coach - which stands the test of time.

So when you hear the Keep Pounding drum banging and the chant blaring next season and beyond, take a minute to remember its significance. Mills wanted that more than anything.