The Carolina Panthers' new Nike uniforms were unveiled on Tuesday, along with a hidden message.
The Panthers will have the words "Keep Pounding" stitched on the collars of their jerseys in honor of late linebacker and assistant coach Sam Mills.It is this kind of gesture that should be on every NFL uniform, remembering those who meant so much to the league.
Mills was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in August 2003. Despite undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he remained on the field for the Panthers during the 2003-2004 season, and his inspirational plea to "keep pounding" led the team to a victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round.
Mills said before the game, "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!"
Keep Pounding is now a fund to sponsor cancer research programs.
The Panthers' gesture to Mills couldn't have been a more positive way to kick off the new jerseys. It should only mark the beginning of an effort to honor the inspirational people throughout the years in the NFL. It's also a reminder that it's not always about the flashy "swoosh," or the money, or the sponsorships that make the NFL a lucrative enterprise—it's about the individuals who put their heart and soul into the game they love and the relationships formed within the league.
More teams need to follow the Panthers' lead and continue to honor those who made football what it has become today.