We've all heard the phrase that's taken over Panther Nation, "Keep pounding." But what does it actually mean?
It all started with number 51, Sam Mills. He played linebacker for the Panthers from 1995 until 1997 and later became their linebackers coach from 1999 until 2004. In 2003, Mills was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. During the team's run to Super Bowl XXXVIII, Mills gave a speech. He said, “When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do--quit, or keep pounding. I’m a fighter. I kept pounding. You’re fighters too. Keep pounding!"
Mills passed away in 2005, but his legacy lives on, off the field too. A Keep Pounding fund set up in 2003 has raised $1.7 million for cancer research and patient support programs at Levine Cancer Institute.
Dr. Edward Kim with Levine Cancer Institute said, “He (Mills) kept battling. That moniker, that theme that he espoused to the community, to his teammates about ‘keep pounding’ really ties in that message of ‘cancer underdog’ and never giving up.”
Mills' legacy lives on outside of Bank of America Stadium. A statue in his likeness sits outside of the stadium and reminds every fan who walks through those gates to ‘keep pounding.’