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Barbara
04-18-2005, 03:32 PM
Former USFL Philadelphia Star middle linebacker Sammy Mills died today from cancer. He was 45.

I wish I had a link. He was a great middle linebacker for the Philly Stars. He was only 5' 11", but he was the defensive player to be reckoned with. The only Stars games I missed were when they moved to Baltimore. I used to start the DE-FENSE chants at Vet stadium. Many Mondays I was totally hoarse from cheering them on.

In the very early season of the USFL the head coach of the Stars, Jim Morra, declared that the defensive team was "in the doghouse" for some apparent offense in practice. They then became known as the Doghouse Defense team. I made a banner that I hung at all the home games for them that read:

Doghouse Defense Rule #54:

I aint't the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

It was stolen after their successful defense of their championship title at Franklin Field, U of P, in Philly after an unbeaten year and the last year they played in Philly.

Sammy will be missed for his "live life for today" attitude and the fact that he served as an example that you can succeed despite what size you are.

God bless you Sammy.

Barbara

PQQLK9
04-18-2005, 03:58 PM
Barbara,Sam was definately one of the good guys. There is a larger than life size stature of him that was erected in front of Bank of America Stadium when he retired. God bless his soul.

web page (http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/sports/football/nfl/carolina_panthers/11425431.htm) http://www.charlotte.com/images/charlotte/observer/11425/130538724325.jpg
1997 - Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills makes his way across the field at the end of a game.

Posted on Mon, Apr. 18, 2005


Mills loses battle with cancer



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PAT YASINSKAS
Staff Writer

Sam Mills, the Carolina Panthers linebackers coach and one of the best players in franchise history, has lost his lengthy battle with intestinal cancer.

Mills, 45, died Monday.

Mills was diagnosed in August 2003. At first doctors, told him he had only several months to live. But Mills battled the disease bravely. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation, but continued coaching.

He was an inspirational force to the Panthers’ run to Super Bowl XXXVIII, delivering an emotional speech to the team before a playoff victory. Mills continued coaching through the 2004 season, but took a turn for the worst in recent weeks.

Mills, one of the most respected players in the NFL during his 12-year career, is the only player in the Panthers Hall of Fame. He also was elected to the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fames for Louisiana and New Jersey.

Mills joined the Panthers in 1995 and spent three seasons with the team, before retiring and going into coaching. He broke into the NFL with the New Orleans Saints in 1986, earning four Pro Bowl berths with New Orleans and one with the Panthers.

An undersized linebacker out of Montclair (N.J.) State, Mills had given up on playing professionally after failing in attempts to catch on with NFL and Canadian Football League teams. He began teaching at a New Jersey high school, but decided to give football another shot when he heard the United States Football League was starting in 1983.

That turned out to be Mills’ big break. He tried out for the Philadelphia Stars and earned a roster spot. He was a three-time All-USFL selection and helped the stars win league titles in 1983 and ’84.

"The USFL came at a perfect time for me," Mills said in an interview in March. "It was the most fun I ever had playing football."

But the USFL was merely a stepping stone for Mills. With the league headed toward collapse, Mills followed Stars coach Jim Mora to New Orleans and quickly showed he belonged in the NFL.

Mills finished his career with 1,319 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and four touchdowns while starting 173 of 181 games. A statue of Mills sits outside Bank of America Stadium as a memento of his selection to the Panthers Hall of Fame.

Born June 3, 1959 in Neptune, N.J., Mills is survived by his wife Melanie, sons Sam III and Marcus and daughters Larissa and Sierra.

Barbara
04-18-2005, 04:11 PM
Thanks for the link, Nick.

Intersetingly enough, Sam Mills decided to try out for wrestling in high school when he was deemed "too small" to play football. Sam always credited his wrestling skills to his defensive moves when he got the chance to excel at football. He literally took down his opponents.

Barbara

PQQLK9
04-18-2005, 04:14 PM
http://www.gastongazette.com/Portal/Sports/Panthers/History/mills_hall.jpg

Litte man with a big heart.