CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Sam Mills, an undersized linebacker who became a Pro Bowl player with New Orleans and Carolina and was later an assistant coach for the Panthers, died Monday after fighting cancer for nearly two years, the Panthers said. He was 45.
Mills, who was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine in August 2003 but continued to coach Carolina's linebackers between chemotherapy treatments, died at his home.
Mills continued to coach the Panthers linebackers between chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with cancer in 2003.
"Sam was one of the finest people you will ever meet. You would never know that he was a player who made Pro Bowls and had all this attention because he treated everybody the same no matter who they were," Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said. "He never had a bad thing to say about anybody and had a great ability to laugh at himself.
"He was the type of guy you want your kids to grow up to be."
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Mills spent the final three seasons of his 12-year NFL career with the Panthers, beginning with their inaugural season in 1995.
There is a statue of him outside Bank of America Stadium and he is the only player in the team's Hall of Honor. Mike McCormack, Carolina's first team president, is the only other inductee in the Hall.
"Words are inadequate to express what Sam meant to the Panthers organization," Carolina owner Jerry Richardson said. "We were privileged to have him as a member of our family, and we are devastated over this loss."
If anything, Mills seemed like a really honest, good guy. I know a lot of people seem that way in a Obit, but I never remember hearing anything bad about him. A loss for the NFL.