Sam Mills III faces the tough task of replacing Jim Tomsula in Washington
About Sam Mills III
Mills has a notable NFL lineage. His father, also Sam Mills (pictured), played 12 years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers after being one of the most dominant defensive players in the USFL.
Throughout his career, the elder Mills racked up 1,265 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, and 11 interceptions. He became a Panthers legend after joining the expansion franchise in 1995 and was a first-team All-Pro in 1996. He was a valued veteran leader and to this day, is the only Panthers player to have his number retired.
Mills unfortunately passed away in 2005 as a result of a prolonged battle with intestinal cancer. He is the inspiration behind the team’s “Keep Pounding” slogan, as uttered the phrase in an emotional speech before a Panthers win during his battle.
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Because of the Mills family history with the Panthers and the city of Charlotte, it’s no surprise that the younger Mills got his start there as well. He followed in his father’s footsteps, attending Montclair State before landing a job in the NFL.
Mills began his career as one of the Panthers’ strength coaches and a defensive assistant in 2005. Starting in 2006, he spent four years as a quality control coach on John Fox’s staff and got a chance to learn from the long-time, defensive-minded Panthers coach.
In the early days of his career, Mills got to witness Fox in action as well as defensive coordinators Mike Trgovac and Ron Meeks. During the first six seasons of Mills’ career, the Panthers had three top-10 defenses. So, he got to see exactly how to coach up a defense, even if it came from more of an old-school staff.
In 2011, Mills was promoted from a quality control coach to an assistant defensive line coach. And that’s where he started to get a lot more hands-on experience in that role.