COLLEGE: Montclair State
BORN: June 3, 1959 in Neptune City, New Jersey
JOINED SAINTS: 1986
YEARS WITH SAINTS: 1986 - 1994
Sam Mills' Career Background
A ferocious linebacker who anchored one of the most dominant linebacker corps the league has ever seen, Sam Mills was selected posthumously to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022. He became the fourth player that spent the majority of his career with the New Orleans Saints to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining former Dome Patrol teammate, Rickey Jackson.
Mills, 5-9, 232, who passed away in 2005 after a valiant battle with cancer, joined the Saints in 1986, signing with the team after starting his pro football career in the USFL with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars (1983-85). The former Montclair State (N.J.) standout spent nine seasons (1986-94) with New Orleans, a time when he was one of the sparkplugs of one of the NFL's most dominant defenses during the majority of his tenure with the Saints.
The New Jersey native played in 133 games with 125 starts during his Saints tenure and recorded 934 career tackles (723 solo), ranked second in club history to Rickey Jackson, 10.5 sacks, four interceptions, 27 passes defensed, 16 forced fumbles and 17 fumble recoveries, two recovered for a touchdown. Mills led New Orleans in tackles in five (1989-92 and 1994) of his nine seasons and reached the century mark five times (1988, 1990-92 and 1994). 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 in scoring defense three times (1988, 1991-92), including ranking first in both 1991 and 1992. In four postseason contests, he also added 35 tackles (27 solo) and one sack.
Mills earned accolade after accolade during his playing years with the Saints, being selected to the Pro Bowl four times (1987-88 and 1991-92) and as a consensus All-Pro twice (1991-92). Mills was selected to the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1998, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the club's All-50th Team in 2016 and the team's Ring of Honor in 2021.
Following the conclusion of his Saints career in 1994, Mills played three more seasons for the Carolina Panthers from 1995-97, producing 331 tackles, ten sacks and seven interceptions, summing up his career totals to 1,265 stops, 20.5 quarterback takedowns and 11 interceptions. He was selected to his fifth Pro Bowl in 1996 and also as an Associated Press All-Pro for the third time.
Mills was one of the club's most active players in the community throughout his tenure, having been selected as the Saints recipient of the Byron "Whizzer" White Humanitarian Award in 1992 and 1993.
Sam Mills' College Career
Sam Mills was a three-time NJ Collegiate Football Writers Defensive Player of the Year, while also being named to the New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Star Team all four of his seasons. Mills was a three-time ECAC Metropolitan All-Star, a two-time All-East selection, a two-time Co-SIDA All-American and First-Team Kodak All-American. He was a team captain his junior and senior seasons at Montclair State while majoring in industrial arts.
Sam Mills' Career Honors
Pro Football Hall of Fame
1st Team All-Pro - 1996
2nd Team All-Pro - 1991, 1992
Pro Bowl - 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996
George Halas Award - 2004
USFL champion - 1984, 1985
All-USFL - 1983, 1984, 1985
USFL All-Time Team
New Orleans Saints Ring of Honor
New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame
New Orleans Saints All-50th Team
Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey
Carolina Panthers Hall of Honors