Bobby Mitchell Cleveland Browns & Washington Redskins
"The defense man, he’s at a disadvantage. If he tries to cover me man to man, that is unheard of...I’m not a cocky individual. I’m confident, but you have to go out there confident. If you come hesitating, that defenseman, he has you in his back pocket.”
Bobby Mitchell was blessed with exceptional speed, uncanny faking ability and balance. They were assets that served the versatile wide receiver/halfback well during his 11-year National Football League career that began in 1958 as a seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.
The fact that Mitchell lasted until the seventh round was somewhat of a mystery, but certainly a stroke of luck for the Browns. Mitchell, who had hoped to play flanker in the pros, was teamed with the incomparable Jim Brown to give the Browns one of history's truly great running back combinations from 1958 through 1961.
He also was a breakaway threat as a punt- and kickoff-return specialist. After four productive seasons with the Browns, Bobby was traded to the Washington Redskins where he played with distinction for seven more seasons.
With his trade to Washington, Bobby became the first African American to sign and star for the Redskins. In Washington, the 6-0, 192-pound Mitchell was for the most part a full-time flanker who gained the reputation as one of the finest catch-run yardage makers in the game.
It is little wonder NFL defenders shuddered whenever Bobby got the ball. He was a potential time bomb who almost always went off. When Mitchell retired, his 14,078 combined net yards was the second highest total in NFL history. He had also scored an amazing 91 touchdowns. Eighteen of his touchdowns came by rushing, 65 on receptions, 3 on punt returns, and 5 on kickoff returns. He amassed 7,954 yards on receptions and 2,735 yards on rushes.
He won the NFL receiving title in 1962 with 72 catches. During his first six seasons with the Redskins he never caught fewer than 58 passes. Four times, once as a running back and three times as a wide receiver, he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl.