Montclair, NJ (6/3/09) – Sam Mills, the greatest football player in the history of Montclair State, will be enshrined into the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame on July 17-18. Mills, the nine-time NFL Pro Bowler, will be inducted posthumously at the two-day event celebrating the greats in collegiate football.
was a standout at Division III Montclair State from 1977-80,
being named captain his final two seasons and a Kodak All-American
selection as a senior. His 501 career tackles set a school record,
his 142 tackles as a sophomore set the school's single-season
mark and his 22-tackle performance as a junior established
a single-game record. He was a three-time defensive player of
the year selection by the New Jersey Collegiate Football Writers
Mills' No. 62 was retired by Montclair State in 1981, one of two numbers in MSU history to be retired.
Deemed "too small" to play linebacker in the pros, the 5'9" Mills went on to an outstanding career which began in the United States Football League (USFL) with the Philadelphia Stars. He then moved on to the National Football League (NFL) where he became an All-Pro with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.
In 1997, Mills finished his Carolina playing career having not missed a start in 50 games, including the playoffs, and leading the team in tackles two of his three seasons. His Panthers career was distinguished by two of the biggest plays in team history.
His 36-yard interception return for a touchdown versus the Jets in 1995 triggered the first victory in team history and was a turning point in the team's record-setting inaugural season.
The following year, his interception versus Dallas in the 1996 divisional playoffs sealed the first postseason win in franchise history. In recognition of his contributions, Mills became the first former player and the second member of the Panthers Hall of Honor.
He has also been elected to Halls of Fame for the Saints and the states of Louisiana and New Jersey.Mills graduated from Long Branch High School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial technology from Montclair State, and was inducted as a member of the MSU Hall of Fame in 1992. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree at Montclair State University commencement ceremonies in 1998.
Mills died on Monday, April 18, 2004 following a 20-month battle with cancer. Mills, a five-time National Football League Pro Bowler was 45.Funeral services for Mills were held in his native New Jersey on April 25 and a memorial was also conducted in Charlotte, N.C.where he was an assistant coach with the Carolina Panthers.
Meanwhile, Mills' family has asked that donations be made in his memory to the Keep Pounding Fund at Carolinas Medical Center. All proceeds will be used to help advance cancer research programs at the Blumenthal Cancer Center. The Keep Pounding fund was established last year by Mills and Carolina linebacker Mark Fields, diagnosed with cancer within two weeks of each other in 2003.