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Teammates, coaches and colleagues of Sam Mills react to Hall of Fame announcement

Sam Mills Dom Capers

DOM CAPERS - Panthers head coach (1995-98)

"In my mind, Sam Mills epitomizes every quality that a true Hall of Famer should stand for, both on and off the field. I was lucky enough to be with him at the Philadelphia Stars, New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, and his impact was felt wherever he went. No matter where we were together, he gained instant respect from his teammates from the moment he showed up.

"When starting a franchise, you couldn't have picked a better guy to be the face of the Carolina Panthers in the way he handled himself and his leadership capabilities. Every player looked up to him, and I think that he had all of the qualities that you look for in a football player. I've had the good fortune to coach multiple Hall of Fame players, and he fits right in with that group. He was a great football player, but he was an even better person, and no one deserves this honor more than Sam."

BILL POLIAN - Panthers general manager (1995-97), Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2015)

"I'm thrilled that Sam has made it to the Hall of Fame. I wish that he was going to be there to accept the honor in person, but that does not dilute the honor one iota, and I know that his family is thrilled. 

"He was a driving force behind our defense in the early years and one of the main reasons that we became so competitive so quickly. Panther fans know and celebrate his contributions every Sunday, and he is commemorated with the statue outside the stadium, but now the greater football world will know how great his contributions were to the Panthers, Saints, and the NFL."

JOHN FOX - Panthers head coach (2002-10)

"While I watched Sam as a player and didn't coach him, he was a coach on our staff. And just the respect that the players had for him - he earned it. I'm blessed to have been with a lot of players that have made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But for as good of a player as Sam was, he was a better person. What a great role model for young people and what a great leader as a player and as a coach. The thing that I always respected the most about Sam was he just got everything out of what God gave him to be a great player. You can't help but respect that. I couldn't be happier for his family. God rest his soul. I know he's looking down, and I know he's proud too."

VIC FANGIO - Panthers defensive coordinator (1995-98)

"I had the pleasure and honor to be with Sam Mills for 15 years (14 as a player, one as assistant coach). During his 12-year career in the NFL, he may not have been the best inside linebacker in the NFL, but there was absolutely no one better than him. He possessed a rare combination of talent, toughness, intelligence, instincts, and leadership skills that led us to be an elite defense. All of this with an overachiever's mentality and work ethic that made him the Hall of Famer he is today.

"There are many stories I can tell about him that would illustrate who he was as a player and person. They all come back to greatness. The team in Canton got better today as the players he played with and against will attest to."

MIKE TRGOVAC - Panthers defensive line coach (2002), defensive coordinator (2003-08)

"In my opinion, the definition of a Hall of Fame player is someone who impacts his team with his playmaking ability and leadership. Sam Mills did this not only as a player, but as a coach as well. 

"As a first-time defensive coordinator, I was fortunate to have Sam on our staff. Even through his battle with cancer, he worked harder than anyone and never allowed me to reassign his work or responsibilities to make his workload easier. We all know what a great player and coach Sam was, but for me, he's one of the best human beings I've ever been around and inspired me to be a better coach, father, and man every day. Sam is the epitome of a Hall of Famer, and there is no one who deserves this more than him and his family."

BRETT MAXIE - Teammate in New Orleans (1986-93) and Carolina (1995-96)

"Sam always had that little chip on his shoulder about his stature. As long as he played, people told him he couldn't do it because of his size. But he did. 

"I never heard him say 'I can't.' I only heard him say 'I will,' and he's already proven so many people wrong over the years."

WESLEY WALLS - Teammate in New Orleans (1994-95) and Carolina (1996-97)

"When I signed with the Saints, I hadn't done anything. I played against Sam when I was with San Francisco, and he probably wouldn't even remember me. They put me in to try to block Sam, which I never could one really could. But when I became his teammate in New Orleans, he took me under his wing. He took me to Bible Study, introduced me to a lot of guys on the team, made me feel welcome, and as I started becoming a better football player, he just made me better in practice.

"Then I just watched him. As a player, you always watch the better players on your team, the guys you gravitate toward, and that's Sam. Sam was just so classy. He was just so classy in the way he reacted with his teammates and the fans. He was an intense motivator. He didn't just motivate by words alone. He motivated by his actions, and that's what impressed me about Sam Mills as a teammate. He just didn't talk about it. He went out and got it done."

PAT TERRELL - Teammate in Carolina (1995-97)

"Sam being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame just solidifies for me the reason why they have a Hall of Fame. He epitomizes toughness, the word teammate, commitment. Sam Mills changed the game for how to be a professional, how to be a leader that not only, 'Do what I say but do what I do.' Sam Mills just reassures me that the Hall of Fame is looking for the right things for their inductees.

"You look at him as a sergeant, a commander of a force, and he gives you immediate confidence. If you're in the starting rotation on a defense with Sam Mills, you know you're there because of your own skillset and your own professionalism, but also you know that you're there because Sam Mills wants you on his defense. If you weren't a student of the game and willing to sacrifice everything to be out there, Sam Mills was going to let it be known. Playing with Sam was just fun. I give him all these accolades of being such a serious and committed football player, but he was simply a nice person. He was a real good guy and someone that, and I don't say this a lot, I'd be proud if one of my kids was even mentioned as far as his personality and the type of man that Sam Mills was. It's hard to describe him with one word. You have to use a sentence. He was a selfless, committed, tough, and simply a good football player. And I say simply because he made it look easy."

CARLTON BAILEY - Teammate in Carolina (1995-97)

"As soon as we got here in 1995, we had a connection. I've never known anyone with the kind of love and passion for the game of football as Sam. We talked a lot about it over the years, but he was always an example of how the game should be played, and how to be a professional. 

"What he lacked in size and height, he made up for in heart and desire."

WILLIE GREEN - Teammate in Carolina (1995-96)

"I used to joke with Sam that he played back when they had leather helmets. Sam was one of those silent leaders. He didn't have to say much, but what he did on the field spoke for everything. Just the player he was. Like I said, he was a silent leader and someone I was honored to play with. You grow up watching certain guys. As a kid, I was a Saints fan, and Sam was that guy...he was on that team. When I first got in the league and was playing with Detroit, playing against him, it was like playing one of the greats at that time. Then being able to play with him with the Panthers, it was nothing but an honor."

View photos of Sam Mills during his time as a player and coach with Carolina.

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