The story behind the Panthers’ ‘Keep Pounding’ team mantra

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

With the Carolina Panthers making Super Bowl 50 this year, people are seeing “Keep Pounding” everywhere — especially in the Carolinas.

But what does that saying mean? Where did it come from?

On the Carolina Panthers’ official website, the team explains it this way:

“Keep Pounding has become a team mantra in honor of late Carolina Panthers player and coach Sam Mills. Mills first used the phrase ‘Keep Pounding’ as a coach in an emotional speech to the team prior to the Panthers’ playoff game versus the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 2, 2004. He spoke about commitment, dedication to teammates, team effort and never giving up. Mills asked the players to ‘Keep Pounding.'”

But the saying isn’t just related to football. It’s also a message encouraging cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones.

Mills played for 12 seasons in the National Football League, playing out the end of his career with the Panthers from 1995 to 1997.

In 1998, Mills became a defensive coaching assistant for the Panthers and was promoted to linebackers coach in 1999.

In August 2003, Mills was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and told he only had a few months to live.

Mills decided to battle cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. He continued to coach the team throughout the 2004 season.

After nearly two years battling cancer, Mills died at his home in Charlotte on April 18, 2005. He was 45.

In addition to his now-famous speech to the Panthers before the Cowboys game in the team’s run to Super Bowl XXXVIII, “Keep Pounding” also became the name of a fund to sponsor cancer research programs.

The Keep Pounding Fund supports cancer research efforts at Carolinas Medical Center. Since its inception, the Keep Pounding Fund has raised more than $1.4 million, according to the Panthers’ website.

Mills’ jersey, No. 51, was retired at the start of the Panthers’ 2005 season.

“Keep Pounding” is sewn into the collar of every Panthers jersey and Sam Mills’ spirit lives on through this run to Super Bowl 50 and beyond.