Commanders assistant Sam Mills III reflects on “great news” of his dad making the Hall of Fame

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Washington Commanders defensive line coach Sam Mills III is grateful that his father achieved football immortality when he was announced as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

Although it wasn’t announced until February 10, Mills III said he got a call from a Canton, Ohio, phone number shortly after the Hall of Fame selection committee voted on January 18.

“I figured I’d better answer it,” Mills III told Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “It was either going to be good news or bad news. . . . Thank goodness it was great news.”

His father, Sam Mills, didn’t live to see this honor. Mills, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the Saints and Panthers, died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 45. He was voted down by the Hall of Fame selection committee repeatedly before getting in this year, in his 20th year of Hall of Fame eligibility. If Mills hadn’t been chosen this year, he would no longer have been eligible to make it as a modern-era candidate and could only be nominated by the veterans’ committee.

Now Mills joins Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Richard Seymour, Bryant Young, Cliff Branch, Art McNally and Dick Vermeil in the Class of 2022.

“I also feel that he’d be honored to be with these other greats,” Mills III said. “When you start looking at the names and you see the accomplishments of these guys, it really stands out and it shows you how wonderful this game is and how much of an honor it is to be in that small group.”

Mills III got his first job in coaching with the Panthers in 2005, the year his father died, and is now going into his 18th season on an NFL staff. That also would make his dad proud.

10 responses to “Commanders assistant Sam Mills III reflects on “great news” of his dad making the Hall of Fame

  1. Mills was good, but doesn’t deserve HOF before Zach Thomas. Compare their careers, Thomas was better

  2. I remember his dad years ago in the old USFL. He was a beast for the Philadelphia Stars. He was in the USFL because the NFL knock on him was, “he was too short.” He was 5’9″ and the NFL thought LBs needed to be at least 6’0″ “to see over the offensive linemen.” Luckily, he got redemption when his USFL coach Jim Mora was hired by the New Orleans Saints. He brought Mills to the Saints after watching him dominate in the USFL for three years. Mills proved players do not always come in the “standard” package, it is what is on the inside as well as the outside.

  3. Sam was an excellent player. It is unfortunate that he did receive this honor during his lifetime, but it is great that his son is able to enjoy it. Also, it is wonderful that LeRoy Butler is getting his long deserved recognition.

  4. The role of defensive captains is much underappreciated. Aside from his own individual accomplishments, Sam Mills was the defensive captain who made the calls for the front seven for every team he was on because he was the smartest guy on the field. He was like Sean Lee of the Cowboys and Luke Kuckly of the Panthers, their respective defenses were that much better, give up fewer points when they were in than when they weren’t. Sam Mills was that guy who positioned others to make the play. He was long overdue to make the HOF.

  5. I was always impressed by Sam Mills. He wasn’t the biggest guy on the field physically, but you wouldn’t know it by how well he played. Wish he was still alive to see the honor.

  6. Sam Mills was unbelievable. As others have said above, he was only 5’9″ — that is even shorter than Kyler Murray!! But, unlike Murray, it did not compromise his effectiveness. I always wondered how he would have performed as a fullback or just a running back in general. It would have been tough to tackle a 5-9 230 lb. fast guy.

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