New Orleans announced the organization would honor former "Dome Patrol" linebacker Sam Mills, a franchise legend. Mills will be inducted into the Saints' Ring of Honor at halftime of the Dallas vs. New Orleans game on Thurs., Dec. 2.
Mills passed away in 2005 after a long battle with cancer became the seventh member of the franchise to receive this honor. He joins late owner Tom Benson, LB Rickey Jackson, OT Willie Roaf, K Morten Andersen, late DE Will Smith, and QB Archie Manning in the team's Ring of Honor.
Mills played collegiate football at Montclair State. He was cut in training camp by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie in 1981. After one year in the CFL, Mills signed with the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League (USFL).
Coached by future New Orleans coach Jim Mora, Mills was a star in the USFL. He led the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars to three championship games and two titles in the league's only three years of existence. When the USFL folded in 1986, Mills, Mora, and fellow USFL refugees LB Vaughan Johnson and KR Mel Gray joined the Saints.
Mills, Johnson, holdover Rickey Jackson, and 1986 third-round draft choice LB Pat Swilling formed ‘‘The Dome Patrol’’, the most dominant corps of linebackers in NFL history. They paced one of the league's most intimidating defenses from 1986 to 1992, leading the team to its first four playoff appearances in franchise history.
Rickey Jackson is the only "Dome Patrol" member inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mills and Swilling have been semi-finalists. Mills became a finalist in 2020 and 2021.
All four members of the Dome Patrol are in the Saints Hall of Fame.
He was overlooked because of his 5’9” and 229-Lb. frame, Mills was considered too short to play in the NFL. He proved doubters wrong in a resounding fashion, earning five Pro Bowls over a 12-year career and getting voted to the NFL All-1990s Team.
Nine of Mills' 12 NFL seasons were with the Saints. From 1986 to 1994 in New Orleans, he intercepted four passes, forced or recovered 33 fumbles, recorded 10.5 sacks, and had seven seasons of at least 90 tackles. Mills and Jackson are tied with five seasons with at least 100 tackles, most in franchise history..
Mills left New Orleans after the 1994 season and signed with division rival Carolina. He played three years with the Panthers, where he earned one more Pro Bowl berth. Upon his retirement from the NFL in 1997, he served as the Panthers linebackers coach until 2004.
Sam Mill is one of the most unlikely superstars in NFL history. He is known as one of the best, and most beloved players in New Orleans Saints history.