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'Keep Pounding' | Former Carolina Panthers linebacker Sam Mills heading to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Mills is making it to Canton in his final year of eligibility.
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., Sunday Jan. 5, 1997.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

LOS ANGELES — Sam Mills is a Hall of Famer.

In Charlotte, we already knew that, but now it’s official.

The former Carolina Panthers linebacker and assistant coach who died of cancer in 2005, at the age of 45, was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday.

The announcement came in Los Angeles at the NFL Honors awards show ahead of Super Bowl LVI.

Mills is making it to Canton in his final year of eligibility.

Undersized at 5-foot-9, and undrafted, Mills made a name for himself in New Orleans, playing for the Saints from 1986-1994.

In 1995, Mills came to the expansion Carolina Panthers and was a stalwart of the team’s defense for three seasons.

In his career, Mills racked up 1,265 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 23 fumble recoveries, 22 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2003, file photo, Carolina Panthers linebackers coach Sam Mills leaves the field after the Panthers' game against the Washington Redskins in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers motto is everywhere, on stadium walls, plaques and even the team jerseys: "Keep Pounding." The advice comes from Mills, a Panthers linebacker who died of intestinal cancer and is honored with a statue outside the team's stadium. (AP Photo/Rick Havner, File)

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He earned five Pro Bowl selections and helped Carolina to the first win in team history in 1995 and his interception helped put away Dallas in the NFC Divisional Playoff following the 1996 season.

After retirement, Mills became an assistant coach for seven seasons.

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In 2003 before a home playoff game, he told the team to “Keep Pounding,” a phrase that is now synonymous with the franchise.

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His No. 51 jersey is retired by the franchise and he is in the Panthers Hall of Honor.

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