After a stint in the USFL with the Baltimore Stars, Mills joined the Saints in 1986 and quickly became the anchor of a defense that helped lead the franchise to multiple postseason appearances and their first division title in 1991.
He became a free agent after the 1994 season and then joined the Carolina Panthers and was a real leader for the young franchise and was the only player to start in every game of the Panthers first three seasons. One of the big highlights for him in that inaugural season with Carolina was pick-six in week three against the New York Jets which sealed the franchise’s first-ever win.
Mills retired after the 1996 season and transitioned into a defensive coach for the Panthers. He was diagnosed with cancer just before the 2003 season and was told he only had a few months to live. Mills continued to coach and was an inspirational force as the Panthers made a run for the Super Bowl. His speech to the team before was punctuated by the statement “keep pounding” and it has become the team’s official slogan as well as a fund to sponsor cancer victims.
Mills passed away in his home on April 18th, 2005. He played 12 seasons in the NFL and recorded 1,319 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and four touchdowns.
The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class will be introduced during Super Bowl Weekend