By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Bobby Mitchell, a Hall of Fame halfback and flanker who became the Washington Redskins’ first black star, electrifying crowds with his speed, balance, and elusiveness while helping to integrate the last segregated team in professional football, died recently at the age of 84.
His death was announced by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mitchell was one of the most versatile and dynamic offensive threats of his era, forcing his way into the end zone after a catch. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1958. He was a “roadrunner “ who also played alongside the great Jim Brown. They were friends on and off the field.
There was one incident Mitchell spoke of. He and Brown were late for the team bus they were walking rapidly side by side as it was being held up for them. As they got closer, off stepped head coach Paul Brown staring at Mitchell. “Dog gone it, “said Brown. “Bobby Mitchell I’m tired of you holding us up and you better be on time from now on.”
Mitchell got on the bus and Jim brown followed. He never said a word to the great 32.
Mitch played four seasons with the Browns before he was traded to the Washington Redskins in 1962.
Washington was the last NFL team to integrate. Mitchell became the first black to play for them.
He was named All-Pro 4 times and finished his career in the 1968 with 14,078 all-purpose yards and were the second most in National Football League history. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1983.