Posted 21 January 2012 - 06:22 PM
Quotes from ESPN article:
(It's plenty good enough reason for me)
"Sam was one of the finest people you will ever meet. You would never know that he was a player who made Pro Bowls and had all this attention because he treated everybody the same no matter who they were," Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said.
"He's definitely the best coach I ever had," Panthers linebacker Will Witherspoon said. "I got to talk to him the last couple of weeks and I knew that he wasn't doing well, but he never wanted to bring that up.
"He always wanted to focus on how I was doing. There's nothing better than the fact that he concentrated more on other people than he did himself."
He will forever be remembered not for his on-field accomplishments, but for the person he was off the field.
"Sam Mills was not only one of the finest football players that I have ever been around, but above and beyond that, he was one of the finest individuals," said Houston coach Dom Capers, who lured Mills away from the Saints when he coached the Panthers.
Kansas City Chiefs president Carl Peterson, who led the USFL's Stars when Mills was signed, called Mills "one of the toughest defensive players in pro football pound for pound that I've ever witnessed."
Mills was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, hours before he showed up at the stadium to coach the linebackers in their preseason finale. It was a devastating blow to the team, which learned two weeks earlier that linebacker Mark Fields also had cancer.
Carolina restructured its coaching duties to take some of the responsibilities off Mills during his treatment.
Originally given just a few months to live, Mills didn't miss a game that season. He scheduled treatment for off days, and often coached from the press box that year to preserve his strength.
He flew to Houston on the Thursday before the Super Bowl, one day after a round of chemotherapy, and joined Fields for a news conference. Sweating and holding on to the podium for balance, he said, "You have your good days and your bad days. I am just glad I am having days, you know?"
"During the 2003 season," quarterback Jake Delhomme said, "he told us that the way we played inspired him to keep fighting. I think it was the other way around. We were able to draw a lot more from him than he did from us."
"I remember him being the toughest little man I've ever seen in my life," former Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson said. "He was Mighty Mouse -- he'd hit you hard as he could every time he hit you."