Brian Mitchell, one of the most feared kick return specialists in NFL history, is expected to sign a contract with the Washington Redskins on Wednesday, Feb. 16, allowing him to officially retire as a member of the team he started with in 1990.
Mitchell will reunite with head coach Joe Gibbs in the ceremony at Redskins Park. Gibbs coached Mitchell from 1990-93.
Mitchell, selected in 2002 as one of the 70 Greatest Redskins, finishes a stellar 14-year career that included 10 memorable seasons in Washington. He left the franchise in 1999 and played three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and 2003 with the New York Giants.
Mitchell arguably put up Hall of Fame numbers in his career. The 5-10, 221-pound Mitchell, a fifth-round draft choice (130th overall) by the Redskins in 1990, was a versatile threat throughout his career.
While serving primarily as a kickoff and punt return specialist, Mitchell also has occasionally lined up as a running back, wide receiver and quarterback. He also aided special teams kickoff and punt coverage units.
Mitchell, 37, set many NFL records during his career, including:
- Combined Kick Return Yards (kickoffs and punts: 19,013
- Combined Kick Returns: 1,070
- Combined Kick Returns for a Touchdown: 13
- Kickoff Return Yards: 14,014
- Kickoff Returns: 607
- Punt Return Yards: 4,999
- Punt Returns: 463
- Fair Catches: 231
Mitchell also ranks second all-time in all-purpose yards with 23,330. He trails only legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice, who has 23,546.
Mitchell also hold Redskins records for most combined yards with 16,900 and most punt returns for a touchdown with seven.
A native of Plaquemine, La., Mitchell starred as a quarterback at Southwestern Louisiana, becoming the first player in NCAA history to pass for more than 5,000 yards (5,447) and run for more than 3,000 yards (3,335). He also held the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
In his rookie season in Washington, Mitchell saw action as a kick returner, running back and quarterback. When quarterbacks Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries went down with injuries in a Monday night contest at Philadelphia, Mitchell took over as the signal caller and, in his only series, led the Redskins to a touchdown.
As a member of the 1991 Super Bowl championship Redskins team, Mitchell finished second in the NFL to Mel Gray in punt returns with a 13.3-yard average.
Among Mitchell's most memorable games as a Redskin:
- On Jan. 2, 1993, in a Wild Card playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings. Mitchell ran 38 yards on a fake punt to set up his own 8-yard touchdown run. He also rushed for 109 yards on 16 carries and caught three passes for 16 yards.
- On Sept. 6, 1993, in a season opener against Dallas on Monday Night Football, he recorded a career-high 116 rushing yards, including a game-clinching 29-yard touchdown run.
- On Oct. 10, 1993, in a game against the New York Giants, Mitchell recorded a career-high seven receptions, ran back a kickoff 68 yards and threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders.
- Mitchell was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 11, 1994, with a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown and an 86-yard kickoff return that set up another touchdown in a 38-24 win over the New Orleans Saints.
- On Jan. 15, 2000, Mitchell returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Redskins' NFC Divisional Playoff game at Tampa Bay. It was the longest kickoff return in NFL playoff history.