The time is now for Sam Mills to be inducted in Canton
It is time.
Sam Mills deserves to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Timing is everything.
Each and every year, there are a host of strongly credentialed, worthy, deserving candidates added to the list of those who are already in the nominated pool, along with those previously nominated.
Yes, there are bigger names and names of players who played on Super Bowl winning teams among the 15 finalists for the 2021 class..
Of course, Peyton Manning will make it in his first year of eligibility and the New Orleans native should, based on his amazing career.
Getting into the hallowed Hall is hard and it should be.
The Hall of Fame is reserved for the very best of the best.
Mills was one of the very best of the best players.
In covering Mills daily, he was unquestionably the smartest football player, if not the best player the New Orleans Saints had.
Ask Jim Mora.
The former Saints coach called Mills the best player he ever coached.
Mora coached Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Rickey Jackson and Morten Andersen.
He coached NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1991) Pat Swilling and hard-hitting Vaughan Johnson, among many others who are in the Saints Hall of Fame.
Mills was the defensive captain, the signal-caller.
Very, very seldom did you fool Mills.
On many and I do mean many occasions, Mills diagnosed what the opposing offense was going to run and would scream out the play and re-align the strength of the defense to lined up properly, sometimes perfectly, to stuff the offensive play called.
It was a science.
It was a pleasure to watch.
Mills was part of the famed “Dome Patrol,” voted the best corps of linebackers in NFL history.
If this was, and I concur with NFL Network, the best corps of linebackers in the history of the league, it is fitting that more than one member of the four belongs in the shrine at Canton, Ohio.
It is my opinion that Swilling and Johnson are worthy candidates as well but that Mills, who inexplicably is not in the Saints Ring of Honor.
With all due respect to those who the Saints organization, which controls the Ring of Honor, Mills should have been in the Ring of Honor a few years ago.
Mills was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame, which I have been blessed to run, since 1998.
That was his first year of eligibility since Mills retired from the NFL in 1997.
The Saints Hall of Fame nominations and election are done by a media selection committee comprised of journalists who cover or have covered the New Orleans Saints over an extended period of time with a few dating back to the beginning in franchise history.
Mills played nine brilliant seasons (1986-94) for the Saints.
He was part of the first four playoff teams in franchise history.
Mills was part of the first division championship in franchise history.
Along with Drew Brees on offense, Mills is the football-smartest player the New Orleans Saints have ever had.
Mills left New Orleans and played for the Carolina Panthers for three seasons (1995-97).
Mills was an integral part of the Panthers reaching the NFC Championship game in the 1996 season, when he earned Pro Bowl honors and was a first-team All-Pro, in his second-to-last season in the NFL.
Though his playing days were shorter in Charlotte, the Panthers thought so much of Mills that they erected a statue of him outside of their stadium which is there today. Additionally, the Panthers hired Mills to serve as an assistant coach.
Mills had over 100 tackles seven times, including five times with the Saints, leading the team regularly in that department.
Mills had 20.5 sacks, forced 22 fumbles, recovered 23 fumbles and scored three defensive touchdowns.
Mills made five Pro Bowls and was overlooked at least three other times.
Mills earned NFL Defensive Player of the Month three times in his career.
Mills was universally respected by his peers, including teammates and opponents. He was loved by coaches.
He was embraced by the public, whom he embraced, adored by fans.
Mills was a natural leader and he was one of kindest, most honest and character-rich athletes I have ever known.
He did it at perhaps a shade under five-foot-nine.
“The Field Mouse” stole the cheese of many offenses.
He was truly one of the very best inside linebackers to ever play the game.
It is a shame that none of his teams reached a Super Bowl.
That had nothing to do with Mills and it should have nothing to do with him getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Back to the timing issue.
This is the 18th year of eligibility for Mills, the most of any of the 15 Modern Era finalists.
Manning will get in.
Reggie Wayne of John Ehret certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame.
The same is true of former LSU star Alan Faneca.
All others on the list are qualified and deserving.
It is simply time for Mills and time for the selection committee to pull the trigger and give one of the best players and best men to ever play the game for the New Orleans Saints to receive his just reward.
It is too bad that Mills will not be here to see it.
Sam, who lived in my subdivision while still with the Saints, lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 45 in 2005. It was a sad day but Mills has left us with so many great memories.
I am glad to have known a good husband and dad.
I will be mad if he does not get what he deserves. It would be a bad decision not to vote Mills in.
Sam Mills belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…