LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. – The Washington Redskins announced today they will be retiring the jersey of the late Bobby Mitchell, number 49. This will mark only the second time in the team's 88 year history a jersey number will officially be retired. The team also announced they are renaming the lower level of FedExField in honor of Mitchell.
"There is no one more deserving of these honors than the late Bobby Mitchell. Bobby was one of the most influential players not only in our team's history, but in the National Football League. He excelled on the field, in the front office and most importantly in his community where he had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many through his charitable efforts. He was one of the greatest men I have ever known," said Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder.
"Bobby would have been thrilled and humbled by this wonderful recognition. We were married for 64 years and while he worked hard and traveled throughout his life and was a dedicated football professional, he was also a totally dedicated family man. He was blessed by God with a large extended family and great friends. He was totally engaged in his work and his family and was a truly great man and a great husband. I would like to thank Dan Snyder and the entire Washington Redskins organization for this great honor," said Gwen Mitchell, wife of Bobby Mitchell.
"This honor would have meant the world to him. He would have been thrilled, appreciative and humbled. He felt that the retiring of a jersey is the ultimate recognition of an athlete. My father was a great family man who would have embraced this well-deserved recognition of his many accomplishments," said Terri Mitchell, daughter of Bobby Mitchell.
"He would have a look of shock on his face, just like he had when I told him he'd been selected to the same Professional Football Hall of Fame," said Robert Mitchell, son of Bobby Mitchell.
"Bobby was our Jackie Robinson. He had to handle the pressure of being the first African American football player to integrate the Washington Redskins. He, like Jackie, was a military officer headquartered in the DC area when he received notice of his trade.," said former Redskins safety Brig Owens. "In the face of great adversity, he served as a role model for the Washington, D.C. community, The Redskins, its fan base and the NFL. He was committed to the National Leukemia Society and the Shaw Food Committee where for 40 years they fed over 500 families at Thanksgiving. He was more than an exceptional football player and athlete, he was an exceptional human being. He was like a brother to me."
In addition, to the National Leukemia Society and Shaw Food Committee, Mitchell worked with a number of organizations to better his community. They included: the United Negro College Fund, the Howard University Cancer Research Advisory Committee, the American Lung Association of D.C., the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission, the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the University of Illinois Presidents Council and the University of Illinois Foundation.
Bobby Mitchell played in the NFL for 11 seasons and was a member of the Washington Redskins for seven . He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times during his career and was a three-time First Team All Pro selection. Mitchell appeared in 148 career games and finished his career with 2,735 rushing yards and 7,954 receiving yards along with 3,389 return yards. Upon Mitchell's retirement in 1968, his 14,078 all-purpose yards were the second most in NFL history.
Altogether he spent 41 seasons as a Redskin, as a player and front office executive. During his tenure the team captured three Super Bowl titles.
Mitchell's jersey will be officially retired at a jersey ceremony at a future home game.
Bobby Mitchell passed away April 5, 2020.