Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, one of the first black players in Redskins history, dies at 84

Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, one of the first black players in the history of the Washington Redskins, died Sunday, the Hall of Fame announced. He was 84.

Mitchell’s cause of death was not announced.

Mitchell joined the Cleveland Browns in 1958 after being lured away from a potential Olympic career by head coach Paul Brown’s offer of $7,000. He would team up with Jim Brown to form a terrifying rushing attack for four years.

The Browns later traded Mitchell to Washington, which was the last team in the league to integrate. Mitchell was one of three black players on Washington’s 1962 roster, joining the team in a trade that involved 1962 No. 1 overall pick Ernie Davis, who died of leukemia before ever playing with the Browns.

Former Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins halfback and wide receiver Bobby Mitchell poses with his bronze bust after being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, July 30, 1983.  (AP Photo/Gus Chan)
Bobby Mitchell went from a barrier-breaker with Washington to the team's assistant general manager. (AP Photo/Gus Chan)

With his new team, Mitchell changed positions from halfback to flanker. He found instant success, leading the league in receiving yards in his first two years with the team. He finished his career as a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro.

From Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker:

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Bobby Mitchell. 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.”

Upon retirement, Mitchell embarked upon a three-decade career with Washington, where he eventually worked his way up to assistant general manager.

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