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The late Sam Mills, who coined ‘Keep Pounding’ for the Carolina Panthers, gets final chance at hall of fame

The legendary Panthers linebacker who coined the slogan “Keep Pounding” was among the 15 finalists for induction in the Class of 2022.
FILE - Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills, front, celebrates with teammate Matt Elliott...
FILE - Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills, front, celebrates with teammate Matt Elliott after his interception in the final moments of the Panthers' 26-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., in this Sunday Jan. 5, 1997, file photo.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 5:47 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Late Carolina Panthers great Sam Mills has a last chance to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame as he has been named a finalist for the third year in a row.

The legendary Panthers linebacker who coined the slogan “Keep Pounding” was among the 15 finalists for induction in the Class of 2022, which was announced Thursday afternoon.

In his third straight year as a finalist, and his 20th year of eligibility - this is his final chance to be inducted. If he does not make it this year, he’d have to be chosen by the seniors committee.

Mills, who died at age 45 in 2005 after a lengthy fight against cancer, came to Carolina as a free agent in 1995. After his retirement following the 1997 season, Mills joined the Panthers as an assistant coach.

He was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in Aug. 2003. 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.

“When I found out I had cancer, there were two things could do: quit or keep pounding,” Mills told the team before that game. “I’m a fighter. I kept pounding. You’re fighters, too. Keep pounding!”

During his NFL career, he was a three-time All Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. He was remembered as one of the most respected players in the NFL during his 12-year career,

Mills finished his career with 1,319 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and four touchdowns.

He’s also been inducted into the Saints Ring of Honor, the Panthers Hall of Honor, and his 51 is the only number retired in Panthers history.

A statue of Mills sits outside Bank of America Stadium.

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