Panthers legend Sam Mills named 2022 finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

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On Thursday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its 15 modern-era finalists for the 2022 class. Among them was a Carolina Panthers icon whose presence in that building is, perhaps, long overdue.

That man was linebacker Sam Mills, whose candidacy for immortalization into Canton, Ohio is on its final try. Mills spent three of his 15 professional seasons in Carolina, where he totaled 331 tackles, 10.0 sacks, seven interceptions and six forced fumbles.

His list of NFL accolades is a notable one—with five Pro Bowl selections, three All-Pro nods and spots in both the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor and the New Orleans Saints Ring of Honor. Mills’ lasting legacy rests in his “Keep Pounding” cry, in which he rallied the 2003 Panthers team with an emotional speech during their run to Super Bowl XXXVIII.

“Keep Pounding” has remained the mantra for the organization, continuing to inspire coaches, players and fans alike. Mills died of intestinal cancer in 2005 at the age of 45.

In a bit of a surprise, however, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver and the league’s eighth all-time leading receiver Steve Smith Sr. did not make the cut in his first year up for the vote.

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