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Sam Mills legacy in Carolina

The induction of Sam Mills into the Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 6 signified the first true Carolina Panther player inducted, and no Panther deserved it more.

This is one of the two fun posts of the week, and here I am going to take time to reflect what Sam Mills meant to me, as a young Carolina fan.

Around the time Sam Mills coached from 1998 to 2004, I was just a little kid, but make no mistake, Mills was a legend to Carolina, and to Charlotte.

He symbolized someone who in times of struggle and intestinal cancer continued coaching and pushing through, he kept pounding away. The mantra that is now famous for the Panthers, the ‘keep pounding,’ is from Mills.

But his legacy was so much more than those words. He was this great person, who was never the biggest guy on the field physically, but who persevered and helped others. He made others feel amazing, and like they were the biggest, working the hardest, doing the best.

The legacy after his passing in 2005 is still as profound now than it was when he was a coach here. When talking about Mills, obviously it starts with the playing part, he helped seal the first franchise victory in 1995 with his interception that he returned for a touchdown. He was the first Carolina Panthers’ player to make the Pro Bowl.

His jersey was retired in 2005, the first Panthers’ player.

The hard work, and the courageous attitude he had, made him someone you felt like you knew. He was a selfless man and an inspiration to many people. He represented the belief that you don’t have to be the absolute biggest or best, all that matters is you push and help others along the way.

In this ballot, it was Mills last year, last shot at the Hall of Fame, and he got the votes.

If you ask any Panther fan who embodies Carolina’s values, the hard work, the keep pounding mantra, it is Sam Mills.

It is only fitting that he is the first Panthers player to get in.