Alumnus Sam Mills Jr.'s Message Helps Carolina Panthers Reach Super Bowl

Photo Courtesy of the NFL

As the Carolina Panthers prepare for Super Bowl 50, we remember a Montclair State football player, Sam Mills Jr. ’81, who remains an inspiration to not only the Montclair State University community, but to the city of Charlotte, N.C., and its football team.

Considered undersized for his position and overlooked by Division I schools coming out of Long Branch (N.J.) High School, Mills starred at linebacker for Montclair State becoming a two-time All-American and one of only two Montclair State University players to have his number (62) retired.

Refusing to give up on his dream of playing in the NFL, Mills became a standout for the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League (USFL) before getting his opportunity as a member of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. What followed was a decorated 12-year career that saw him make the Pro Bowl five times and earn four All-Pro selections as part of the Saints and the Carolina Panthers, who will take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday, Feb. 7 in the Super Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif.

Perhaps Mills’ greatest impact, though, has been the effect he has had on the city of Charlotte, even after his passing from intestinal cancer in 2005 at the age of 45. A member of the Panthers’ coaching staff from 1998-2004, his inspirational message, “Keep Pounding,” remains the team mantra for the organization, and has even helped spawn the organization’s Keep Pounding Fund for cancer research and patient support programs for the Levine Cancer Institute at Carolinas Medical Center.

On behalf of the entire Montclair State University community, we wish the Carolina Panthers – and Sam’s son, Sam Mills III, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a Montclair State player and is now the assistant defensive line coach for the Panthers – luck as they take on the Broncos Sunday.

Read more about Sam Mills’ legacy:
Montclair Magazine
Asbury Park Press