Who is the best player to play for both the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers?

The two NFC South rivals will square off in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday evening, so now is certainly an appropriate time to give thought to the question.

There are some notable names, including quarterback Jake Delhomme, kicker John Kasay, and tight end Wesley Walls.

My pick, however, is going to be linebacker Sam Mills, the only player to be inducted into the Saints' Hall of Fame, as well as the Panthers' Hall of Honor.

After playing his college football at Montclair St., Mills went undrafted, and failed in his attempts to land in both the NFL and CFL.

The 5-foot-9, 230-pound Mills caught on with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the United States Football League, being named a three-time All-USFL selection, before signing with the Saints prior to the 1986 season.

As a member of the “Dome Parol” linebacking corps, Mills was a nine-year starter for the Saints, compiling 894 tackles, to go along with four interceptions, and 17 fumble recoveries.

A four-time Pro Bowler during his time with the Saints, Mills was the anchor of one of the top defensive units in the league for almost an entire decade.


After signing with the expansion Carolina Panthers prior to the 1995 season, for $2.8 million over two years, Mills went on to rack up 248 more tackles, as well as a 1996 Pro Bowl honor, in his thee years there.

In all, Mills played 12 seasons in the NFL, recording 1,319 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and four touchdowns, while named to the NFL All-Pro team three times, in 1991, 1992, and 1996.

Sadly, Mills was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in August of 2003, and passed away in 2005.

Mills was elected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, the Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey in 1993, and the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1998.

Mills' #51 was the first number to be retired by the Panthers in 2005.

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