Mills is in the first year of a four-year contract worth $1,475 million. It has permitted him to buy a large house in suburban New Orleans, where he lives with Mel and their three children. Sam III, 10, is the intellectual; he can explain the difference between a bayou and a levee. Marcus is a tackle-happy five-year-old who confuses the living room carpet for the rug of the Superdome. Larissa, also five, is a pigtailed cutie whom the Millses adopted.
Sam and Mel like New Orleans, but they also miss their roots. "Someday we'll go back to New Jersey, but I'd like to play out my career in New Orleans," says Mills. "The Saints gave me a chance to prove myself in the NFL. When you're my size, you have to prove yourself in every game and in every play, which is fine by me."
And fine by the Saints, too.