CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WGNO) — Once again former New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Sam Mills has made the “Modern-Era” semifinalist round for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The HOF announced the nominees for the Class of 2022 on Wednesday afternoon.
Mills, who died of intestinal cancer in 2005, played 12 seasons in the NFL – including his final three with the Carolina Panthers, has been a finalist the past two years, but has yet to join fellow former Saint linebacker Rickey Jackson who was inducted in 2010.
Both Mills and Jackson, along with teammates Pat Swilling and the late Vaughn Johnson, comprised arguably the greatest linebacking corps in professional football history. Only the New York Giants quartet led by Lawrence Taylor during the same era could perhaps challenge the “Dome Patrol’s” claim as the best all-time.
The diminutive 5-foot-9 defender known respectfully as “Field Mouse” tallied 1,265 career tackles (363 solo), 20.5 sacks, 23 fumble recoveries with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions with one pick-six.
This year also marks Mills’ final year of eligibility into the HOF as a modern-era candidate.
Joining Mills in this year’s semifinalist pool is former Saints cornerback Eric Allen, who spent three years in New Orleans (1995-97) after spending the bulk of his playing days with the Philidelphia Eagles (1988-1994) and before finishing his career in Oakland (1998-2001).
This is Allen’s second straight year as a semifinalist.
Former John Ehret star Reggie Wayne has been named to the semis for his third straight year. Wayne, who played college ball at the University of Miami, spent his entire 14-year career with the Indianapolis Colts (2001-14) and was one of fellow New Orleanian Peyton Manning’s favorite targets. In fact, Wayne caught 76 touchdown passes from Manning during their time together.
Wayne finished his career with 1,070 catches for 14,345 yards – both numbers are 10th-most in NFL history. Wayne also caught 82 touchdown passes, tied for 26th in the league record books.
His playoff numbers are second only to Jerry Rice.
Other former Saints that were nominated but didn’t make the cut were quarterback Jake Delhomme, fullback Lorenzo Neal, wide receiver Joe Horn, kicker John Kasay and fellow “Dome Patrol” linebacker Swilling.