Apr. 6, 2020

Barrier Breaker Bobby Mitchell Rest In Peace

When I was kid growing up in Baltimore we were lucky that our Baltimore Colts didn’t look at skin color first when choosing its players. They may have looked at skin color but when superior talent was exposed then the player’s color was not the first deciding factor. Maybe that’s why the Baltimore Colts were constantly playing winning football. While the Baltimore Colts had Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Big Daddy Lipscomb, Johnny Sample, and Sherman Plunkett leading the team to championships. The team 40 miles south the Washington Redskins were were a lily white football team owned by George Preston Marshall and because he owned the team skin color did in fact matter. More than the team’s name was racist. The Redskin entire management was locked on white.

At the end of 1961 season the NFL and the Federal Government forced the issue of integration on the bigoted Marshall. Since the Redskins had the #1 pick they traded the draft pick which turned out to be Syracuse University running back Ernie Davis to the Cleveland Browns for Bobby Mitchell. Hence, Bobby Mitchell became the first player of color to suit up for the now integrated Washington Redskins. The Redskins lucked out with this trade because Ernie Davis never played a down of football for the Browns because of his leukemia diagnosis and eventual death. While Bobby Mitchell continued to perform at a Hall of Fame level for a mediocre Washington Redskin team. It wasn’t until Vince Lombardi and George Allen arrived in the Nation’s Capital did the image of race fairness in player selection come to pass.

I always disliked the Washington Redskins but I loved watching Bobby Mitchell play. Bobby Mitchell passed away yesterday at the age of 84. He not only changed the reflection of skin color on the football field in Washington. Mr Mitchell also served on the management team for the Washington Football Team. The only task that Bobby Mitchell didn’t complete in his final journey yesterday was the name change to a more honorable name. I am sure that Mr. Mitchell was dedicated to the burgundy and gold colors of the Washington Football Team but I also feel that Mr. Mitchell cringed at the team insignia. Mr. Mitchell was at the forefront of racial equality and racial fairness in his life. So, if the Washington Football Team wants to pay tribute to the greatest offensive player in the team’s history it should change the name in his honor. Mr. Mitchell spent the major portion of his life working for the Washington Football Team and I am sure he doesn’t want Redskins represented at his memorial services.