Linebacker Sam Mills, once cut by the Toronto Argonauts, enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant /

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has posthumously enshrined linebacker Sam Mills as part of the Class of 2022, honouring one of the biggest whiffs in the history of CFL talent evaluation.

Undrafted out of tiny Montclair State, the five-foot-nine, 229-pound defender known as ‘Field Mouse’ spent the 1982 preseason as a member of the Toronto Argonauts, but was released by head coach Bob O’Billovich ahead of the regular season. The Argos would go on to finish first in the East Division and lose the Grey Cup that year, while Mills would go on to much greater things.

Mills signed with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars in 1983 and became a three-time all-league selection before following head coach Jim Mora to the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. In 12 seasons with the Saints and Panthers, the linebacker went to five Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro.

Mills racked up 1,319 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns in his career. He has been enshrined in the rings of honour of both NFL teams for which he played, with the expansion Panthers retiring his number 51.

The team’s motto, “Keep Pounding,” is inspired by a speech that Mills gave to the team in 2003 while battling cancer, inspiring their run to Super Bowl XXXVIII. He passed away from the disease in 2005 at the age of 45.