"He was told he wasn’t good enough to play college football or big enough to play professional football and at the age of 27, he wasn’t young enough to play in the NFL, and yet here we are today celebrating,”

Those were the words of Melanie Mills, who presented her husband Sam into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, along with the man who brought Mills into the NFL, former New Orleans Saints, and Indianapolis coach head coach Jim Mora.


Sam Mills was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.

Born in Neptune City, Mills grew up in Long Branch and attended Long Branch High School, then Montclair State where he earned Division III All-American honors and where he still holds the team record for career tackles 40 years after graduating.

Mills who went undrafted began a journey that would see him cut by the Cleveland Browns and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, then have success with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL where his head coach Jim Mora would then take him to the New Orleans Saints.

Over the next 12 years, Mills would play 181 career games with 173 starts and total more than 1,300 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, and 22 forced fumbles. He was named to five Pro Bowls and once as a first-team All-Pro.

Sam Mill's wife at her husband's posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame. (NFL via YouTube)
Sam Mill's wife Melanie at her husband's posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame. (NFL via YouTube)

After nine years in New Orleans, Mills jumped to the expansion Carolina Panthers where in three seasons he started all 48 regular-season games and both games in the 1996 postseason, when the second-year team reached the NFC Championship Game, falling to eventual Super Bowl winner Green Bay.

Mills stayed with Carolina as an assistant coach when his playing career ended. In 2003, he was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live.

Mills delivered an emotional speech as the Panthers were preparing for the playoffs, telling the team: “When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do: quit or keep pounding. I'm a fighter. I kept pounding. You're fighters, too. Keep pounding!”

Mills would live 17 months longer than doctors predicted, dying in April 2005 at age 45.

“There can be no better place for him to rest than in the Hall of Fame,” Melanie Mills said.


Also inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame today were Philadelphia Eagles, St Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch, San Francisco 49er Defensive end Bryant Young, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli, NFL Official Art McNally. New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour, and Green Bay Packer strong safety LeRoy Butler.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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