Washington Redskins Ring of Fame honoree and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell passed away Sunday afternoon at the age of 84.
"I was extremely saddened to hear the news about the passing of the great Bobby Mitchell," Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. "Bobby was a Hall of Fame player and executive and represented the Washington Redskins organization with integrity for over 50 years. His passion for the game of football was unmatched by anyone I have ever met. Not only was he one of the most influential individuals in franchise history, but he was also one of the greatest men I have ever known. He was a true class act and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Gwen and the entire Mitchell family during this time."
Mitchell, a seventh-round pick in the 1958 NFL Draft, played running back for four seasons with the Cleveland Browns before being traded to the Redskins in 1962, making him the first African American to play for the franchise. Mitchell immediately switched to flanker, where his exceptional speed and agility made him a renowned pass-catcher.
In seven seasons for the burgundy and gold, Mitchell made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1962-64 and was a first-team All-Pro in 1962, when he led the NFL with 1,384 receiving yards. He still ranks in the top 10 in Redskins' history in receiving yards (6,492; fifth), touchdowns (49; sixth) and catches (393; eighth).
Mitchell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Bobby Mitchell," Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker said in a release Sunday evening. "The Game lost a true legend today. Bobby was an incredible player, a talented executive and a real gentleman to everyone with whom he worked or competed against. His wife Gwen and their entire family remain in our thoughts and prayers. The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations."
Following his retirement in 1969, Mitchell stayed with the Redskins as a pro scout and remained in the front office for more than three decades, serving as the assistant general manager for all three of the franchise's Super Bowls. After 40 years with the organization, Mitchell retired in 2002.
Mitchell, who spent his post-retirement years living in Washington, D.C., was very active in the local community. For decades, he hosted an annual golf fundraiser, the Bobby Mitchell Hall of Fame Classic, to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He was also a civil rights leader who worked with organizations such as the NAACP, UNCF and National Urban League.