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.