Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, a four-time Pro Bowl selection with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, was honored Tuesday with a special plaque ceremony signifying him as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company. The event took place at Hot Springs High School in Hot Springs, Ark.
Mitchell, a graduate of the now-closed Langston High School in Hot Springs, was humbled at the thought of his plaque hanging in Hot Springs High School’s hallway and reminded the packed audience on hand that he never misses an opportunity to tell someone about how special Hot Springs is to him.
Mitchell’s longtime friend Charles Butler presented Bobby with his plaque after sharing stories from their youth growing up together. “We used to always play football in the backyard and if you had the first pick, you always took Mitchell,” said Butler. “We would call it touch football, but the problem was that no one could touch Bobby.”
Standing at the podium in front of a packed gymnasium filled with students Mitchell delivered a simple message, “If Bobby Mitchell can do it, than you can do it too.” Mitchell made it perfectly clear that the best thing he had going for him as a teenager was not his speed or athleticism, but rather his high school diploma from Langston High School.
“This is an exciting day for the Hot Springs community to have one of their own in Bobby Mitchell honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate,” said Allstate representative Robert Emmich. “Seeing the hometown pride in today’s audience is the reason Allstate is so excited to be a part of this program.”
Additional speakers at the event included Hot Springs High School Principal Doug Upshaw, who served as the ceremony’s emcee and Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises President and CEO George Veras.
“Today, with this plaque, Hot Springs High School becomes forever linked to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,” said Veras. “Congratulations to Mr. Mitchell, his close friends and family, and the city of Hot Springs for this distinguished honor.”
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Bobby Mitchell “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in Hot Springs.
After high school, Mitchell went on to play football and run track at the University of Illinois. Passionate about both sports, Mitchell eventually decided to turn pro in football instead of training for the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Mitchell was a seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1958 NFL Draft. He spent four years in Cleveland before being traded to the Washington Redskins. Mitchell won the NFL receiving title in 1962 and retired with 14,078 combined net yards, the second highest total in NFL history at the time of his retirement. He scored 91 touchdowns and 18 of his touchdowns came by rushing, 65 on receptions, three on punt returns and five on kickoff returns. During his 11-year NFL career, Mitchell amassed 7,954 yards on receptions and 2,735 yards on rushes.
Mitchell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
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