The coolest feature on any of Nike's new NFL uniforms will be hidden during games.
The Carolina Panthers' jerseys will have the words "Keep Pounding" stitched on the collars of their jerseys for the upcoming season, an inspirational nod to the team's late linebacker and assistant coach Sam Mills.
Mills was a star during the team's first years in Charlotte and became a coach after his retirement. Prior to the team's run to the 2003 Super Bowl, he was diagnosed with cancer, yet continued to work while receiving chemotherapy. A player on that team, Mark Fields, was sitting out the season after his own cancer diagnosis.
Before the team's divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, Mills delivered a rousing speech.
"When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do — quit or keep pounding," Mills said. "I'm a fighter. I kept pounding. You're fighters, too. Keep pounding!"
The Panthers won that game, surely with some goosebumps on their arms.
Mills died two years later, but the team and the city has kept his message alive. A fund started by Mills and former Panthers linebacker Mark Fields continues to raise money for research and awareness in the Charlotte area. The Panthers weight room features a mural with Mills' picture and two-word mantra.
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- Sam Mills