Many would argue that the Redskins are overdue in honoring Mitchell, given his important contributions, on and off the sector, in his 41 years with the group as a participant, scout and front-office govt.
Mitchell was the primary black participant acquired by Marshall, who in 1962 grew to become the final NFL proprietor to combine his group’s roster. He did so, as a part of a commerce with the Cleveland Browns, solely after federal officers threatened to disclaim the Redskins use of what’s now generally known as RFK Stadium for his or her residence video games.
Mitchell, who died at 84 on April 5, was a four-time Professional Bowl honoree and a 1983 inductee to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame. He acknowledged upon retiring from the Redskins in 2003 that he had been “deeply harm” by former proprietor Jack Kent Cooke’s resolution to go him over for the group’s basic supervisor job in 1988 and by then-coach Steve Spurrier’s resolution to situation his uniform quantity to a different participant in 2002.
Gwen Mitchell, his spouse of 61 years, mentioned in a press release launched by the group Saturday that her husband would have been “thrilled and humbled” by the popularity.
Workforce proprietor Daniel Snyder known as Mitchell “one of many best males I’ve ever recognized.”
“Bobby was some of the influential gamers not solely in our group’s historical past, however within the Nationwide Soccer League,” Snyder mentioned in a group assertion. “He excelled on the sector, within the entrance workplace and most significantly in his group, the place he had an incredible affect on the lives of so many by way of his charitable efforts.”
Mitchell was an explosive and versatile game-changer throughout his seven seasons with the Redskins, primarily lining up at flanker. In eulogizing Mitchell, Washington Submit columnist Thomas Boswell hailed him as “essentially the most electrical man with a soccer in his palms in D.C. historical past.”
Doug Williams, the Redskins’ senior vp of participant improvement who led the group to the Tremendous Bowl title after the 1987 season, known as the honors introduced Saturday nicely deserved for a person whose affect can’t be overstated.
“It’s a disgrace, like they are saying, he didn’t get the flowers when he was nonetheless right here,” Williams mentioned in a phone interview.
Williams was 7 when Mitchell joined the Redskins in 1962, however the two clicked instantly when Williams was introduced in, initially as a backup quarterback, in 1986 and Mitchell labored within the entrance workplace.
“When you consider the [racial] local weather proper now, simply take into consideration the local weather when Bobby got here right here in 1962, earlier than the civil rights motion had actually gotten going,” Williams mentioned. “It’s a horrible factor to go to work each day for a person who didn’t need any black males on his soccer group. Are you able to think about what that was like each day for Bobby? There isn’t a human being alive who might have worn Bobby’s sneakers.”
The choice to rename FedEx Area’s decrease bowl marks the primary time in Snyder’s 21-year possession that he has sought to distance the group from racism in its previous. The Redskins’ six-paragraph statement concerning the change makes no reference to Marshall, whose identify additionally seems on the Ring of Fame that encircles the stadium’s inside higher wall. In line with an individual aware of the Redskins’ deliberations, the group is revisiting the query of whether or not Marshall ought to stay among the many 51 members of the group honored there.
In changing Marshall’s identify with Mitchell’s for the principle seating bowl, the Redskins, in a way, be part of the rising ranks of companies, cities and establishments which can be eradicating racially charged symbols — from statues of Accomplice warfare useless to racially stereotyped product names and logos — because the nation grapples with its legacy of racism amid requires justice and an finish to systemic racism within the wake of George Floyd’s killing whereas in police custody final month in Minneapolis.
Snyder has given no indication that he’s keen to rethink the group’s nickname, which many regard as a racist slur. Snyder has insisted all through his possession that the nickname is an honorific and a proud a part of the group’s legacy that he won’t ever change.
Mitchell is just the second former participant to have his quantity retired within the group’s 88-year historical past, becoming a member of former quarterback Sammy Baugh (No. 33). Fairly than retire jerseys, the group’s basic observe has been to not situation the numbers of nice gamers of its previous. Spurrier notably violated that observe by issuing Mitchell’s No. 49 to a journeyman tight finish, Leonard Stephens, in 2002, and he later apologized. Mitchell’s retirement adopted just a few months later.