Panthers’ Sam Mills Posthumously Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame ::


— Sam Mills, the 5-foot-9 linebacker who earned the nickname “Field Mouse” during his 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday .

An inspirational figure, Mills overcame tremendous odds to even reach the NFL.

Mills played Division III college football and was undrafted. He was cut by the Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts of the CFL and began his professional career with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. Stars coach Jim Moreau brought him to New Orleans in 1986, and Mills never looked back.

“He was told he wasn’t good enough to play college football or big enough to play professional football, and at 27 years old he wasn’t young enough to play in the NFL, and yet today we celebrate Melanie said. Mills, widow of Sam.

In 12 seasons, Mills had 1,265 tackles, 23 fumbles, forced 22 fumbles, 20 1/2 sacks and intercepted 11 passes. He was also part of the first four playoff teams in Saints history and the first in Panthers history.

After retiring, Mills became an assistant coach for the Panthers. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer before the 2003 season, but continued to coach during treatment and gave a speech known as “Keep Hitting” before the club’s Super Bowl game against New England late that season.

Mills died in April 2005 at the age of 45. His song “Keep pounding” remains the Panthers’ catchphrase.

Leroy Butler also jumped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the same enthusiasm with which he celebrated big games at Lambeau Field.

The four-time All-Pro safety became the first of eight members of the 2022 class enshrined Saturday at Hall of Famer Tom Benson Stadium.

“DJ Khaled said it best, ‘God did,'” Butler began, referencing the song. “When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open up. When you win a Super Bowl, more doors open. When you get elected to the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens up. This is rare company.’

Butler drew a standing ovation from Jaguars fans in attendance to see Tony Boselli’s introduction when he mentioned growing up in Jacksonville.

“Thank you, Duvall,” Butler said. “My mother, who grew up poor, made us think about the rich every day, because it’s not what you wear, it’s how you carry yourself.”

During his 12-year career, Butler helped restore Green Bay to glory. His versatility as a safety set the standard for the new wave at the position and earned him a spot on the league’s all-decade team in the 1990s.

Butler initiated the Lambeau Leap and was the key to Green Bay’s Super Bowl victory over New England. He fell short of becoming the first player in league history to finish his career with 40 interceptions and 20 sacks.

In a year when there were no candidates in the first round, draftees had to wait a long time to get into the hall.

Defensive tackle Richard Seymour didn’t wait too long to try his luck in the NFL. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams in his first four seasons with the New England Patriots.

Seymour pointed to the defensive backs on those teams, but didn’t mention Tom Brady by name.

“We had a young quarterback, but we made him work,” Seymour said to laughter from the crowd.

Seymour had 57 1/2 career sacks over 12 seasons, the first eight in New England, before ending his career with the Oakland Raiders.

“I’m humbled because it’s not about what it says about me, it’s about what it says about us and what we can do together,” he said. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I did not come here alone. None of us did. None of us could have that.”

Seymour, 42, choked up as he thanked his wife Tanya.

“Football is what I do, but family is who I am,” he said. “Thank you for everything you have added to my life. This day belongs to my family. The scriptures teach that your wealth is in your family.’

Seymour called his three children his “greatest joy.”

“Of all that I have accomplished, there is no greater honor than being your father,” he said.

Seymour praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former Raiders owner Al Davis and his son Mark Davis.

He attributed his success to lessons he learned from Patriots coach Bill Belichick: work hard, prepare hard, support your teammates and respect your opponents.

“It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Coach Belichick,” Seymour said.

Long-time head officiating Art McNally gave a video speech after being inducted as a contestant.


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Panthers’ Sam Mills Posthumously Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame ::

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