Bobby Mitchell’s No. 49 will be retired by the Washington Redskins.
Before Saturday, the Washington Redskins had only one retired number in the history of their franchise. That was the No. 33 which previously belonged to Hall of Fame quarterback and four-time All-Pro Sammy Baugh.
But now, the Redskins have announced that another number will be retired by the franchise. And that’s the No. 49 jersey which previously belonged to Bobby Mitchell.
The Redskins announced the decision to retire Mitchell’s number on Twitter on Saturday morning.
This is a well-deserved honor. Mitchell spent seven years with the Redskins after beginning his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns. Notably, he was among the players that first integrated the Redskins. Washington was the final professional football team to integrate in 1962 and Mitchell, John Nisby, and Ron Hatcher were the three black players tasked with that job.
Mitchell quickly became one of the Redskins’ best players. In 1962 and 1963, Mitchell led the NFL in receiving yards, posting marks of 1,384 and 1,436 yards. In 1964, he caught a league-high 10 touchdown passes.
Over the course of Mitchell’s career, he made a big impact for the Redskins as a flanker, halfback, and receiver. At the time of his retirement, Mitchell’s 14,078 total yards ranked second-most in NFL history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.
After his playing career, Mitchell had a long, fruitful career in Washington’s front office. He served as an assistant general manager for the squad and was a key part of the front office during the Bobby Beathard/Joe Gibbs days.
Beyond Mitchell’s accomplishments on the field and in the front office, he is noted for his charitable work, which includes an annual golf tournament called the “Bobby Mitchell Hall of Fame Classic” that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. That event has been running since 1980.
Mitchell was a key player in Redskins history and is one of the most productive players to don the Burgundy and Gold. He certainly deserves to have his number retired after his seven years of excellent on-field play and his 41 total years as a member of the organization.
It’s a shame that Mitchell, who passed away in April of 2020, won’t get a chance to see his number retired. But this is a great way to honor a Redskins legend, and he absolutely knew exactly what he was worth to the franchise during his four-decade tenure with the team. It will be interesting to see if the ‘Skins will consider retiring other numbers in the future or if Mitchell and Baugh will remain as the lone two for years to come.