2021 PFHOF: Sam Mills again reaches the finalists stage

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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Sam Mills has again been named a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist after reaching that stage last year, giving the legendary New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers linebacker a chance at enshrinement in Canton, Ohio. He’s part of a crowded group of candidates, including New Orleans natives Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne.

Mills has been passed over many times before. His candidacy is in its 19th year, the second-oldest of the group (trailing the great Clay Matthews Jr., with 20 years). But he’s now been named a finalist for two consecutive cycles, suggesting there’s a real effort among the voters to get him into the Hall of Fame. And that would be well-deserved given his efforts with both franchises he helped put on the map.

In New Orleans, Mills was the heartbeat of the “Dome Patrol” defense, helping elevate the Saints to the team’s first playoff game in 1987 and representing them in four Pro Bowls. He was part of an iconic set of linebackers along with Hall of Fame inductee Rickey Jackson, the great Pat Swilling, and the late Vaughan Johnson.

But he ended up finishing his career with the expansion-team Panthers, standing out on the field late into his 30’s before continuing his career as a coach. He’s continued to stand out in fans’ memories since his too-soon passing in 2005, helped by a bronze statue in his likeness outside Carolina’s stadium. Maybe the Saints should consider immortalizing his legacy with the Saints someday with a memorial of their own outside the Superdome, joined by his Dome Patrol teammates.

In the meantime, we might have to settle for a bronze bust in Canton, joining Jackson’s. Here’s hoping the voters give him his due credit in their final deliberations.

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