The New Orleans Saints have announced Wednesday, Oct. 13 that former linebacker Sam Mills will be inducted posthumously into the club's Ring of Honor during halftime of the Thursday, Dec. 2 contest against the Dallas Cowboys. Mills joined the Saints in 1986, signing with the team after starting his pro football career in the USFL with the Philadelphia Stars (1983-85). He will join Owner Tom Benson, kicker Morten Andersen, linebacker Rickey Jackson, quarterback Archie Manning, tackle William Roaf and defensive end Will Smith in the Ring of Honor, which was established in 2013.
Mills died in 2005 after a long, valiant battle with cancer and is survived by his wife Melanie and their four children, sons, Sam Mills III and Marcus Mills and daughters, Larissa Mills and Sierra Mills. The former Montclair State (N.J.) standout spent nine seasons (1986-94) with New Orleans, a time when he was one of the spark plugs of one of the NFL's most dominant defenses and was part of the first four playoff teams in team history. He was part of one of the best linebacker corps in NFL history, "The Dome Patrol," with Jackson, Pat Swilling and Vaughan Johnson. In his illustrious career for the Black and Gold, the New Jersey native played in 133 games with 125 starts and recorded 934 tackles (723 solo), ranked second in club history to Jackson, 10.5 sacks, four interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 15 forced fumbles and 17 fumble recoveries, two recovered for a touchdown. Mills led New Orleans in tackles five of his nine (1989-92 and 1994) seasons and reached the century mark five times (1988, 1990-92 and 1994), tied with Jackson for the most in club history. During his tenure, the Saints were ranked in the top four in the NFL in opponent net yards per game three times (1987, 1991-92) and four times in the top five in opponent points per game (1987-88 and 1991-1992), including first in 1991 and 1992. Mills earned accolade after accolade during his Saints playing years, being selected to the Pro Bowl four times (1987-88 and 1991-92) and as a consensus All-Pro twice (1991-92).
Following the conclusion of his Saints career in 1994, Mills played three more seasons for the Carolina Panthers, producing 331 more tackles, 10 more sacks and seven more interceptions, summing up his career totals to 1,265 stops, 20.5 takedowns and 11 picks. He was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in 1996 and also as an Associated Press All-Pro for the third time. Overall, Mills appeared in 181 career games with 173 starts for the Saints and Panthers posting career totals of 1,265 tackles (971 solo), 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, 46 passes defensed, 21 forced fumbles and 23 fumble recoveries, returning three for touchdowns.
After retiring from play, Mills was inducted into the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor. He became a scout for the Panthers in 1998, before becoming Carolina's linebackers coach from 1999-2004. Prior to his NFL days, Mills was a three time All-USFL player winning back-to-back USFL Championships with the Philadelphia Stars in 1984 and 1985 and was name to the USFL All-Time Team. He was elected to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, Saints Hall of Fame in 1998, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey in 2003 and was selected to the Saints' All-50th Team in 2016. He was also named a finalist for the 2020 and 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame classes and is a nominee for the class of 2022.
We honor late 'Dome Patrol' legend Sam Mills who played in New Orleans from 1986-1994.