For one Carolina Panthers great, it’s his first chance. And for the other, it’s his last. But either way, they’re both a step closer to football immortality.
Early Wednesday afternoon, franchise legends Steve Smith Sr. and Sam Mills were named two of 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2022. While Smith will get his opening crack at Canton in the upcoming months, Mills—as a modern-era candidate—is now on his fifth and final year of eligibility.
The duo have made the initial cut of 2022 nominees, a pool that included 123 players prior to today. The remaining 26 candidates will soon be whittled down to 15 finalists.
Smith played 13 of his 16 professional seasons in Carolina. He remains the franchise leader in all major receiving categories and is currently the eighth all-time leading receiver (14,731 yards) in NFL history.
Mills, a universally respected and admired man in the football world, earned one of his five Pro Bowl selections as a Panther. He was also a three-time All-Pro and is a member of both the Panthers Hall of Honor and the Saints Ring of Honor.