The Pro Football Hall of Fame reported on Sunday that, Bobby Mitchell, the first African American athlete to play for the Washington Redkins, passed away at the age of 84. The cause of his death was not stated.
Playing for the Cleveland Browns in his first four seasons with the National Football League, Mitchell made the move to the Redskins in 1962, which incidentally was the last NFL side to include a black player in its roster.
An immediate success in Washington
The Redskins were owned at the time by George Preston Marshall, who reportedly overlooked black players for draft choices until he was pressured by President John F. Kennedy to integrate. The Redskins at the time played at D.C. Stadium, which was owned by the federal government.
Mitchell was an immediate hit in Washington, leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards in his first season in the national capital.
Passion for the game unmatched
After an illustrious career during which he earned four Pro-Bowl selections, Mitchell retired in 1968, but remained with the team in an administrative capacity, working his way up to assistant general manager. Current team owner Dan Snyder said Mitchell represented the Redskins with "integrity for over 50 years."
"His passion for the game of football was unmatched by anyone I have ever met," Snyder said in a statement. "Not only was he one of the most influential individuals in franchise history, but he was also one of the greatest men I have ever known."
(With inputs from agencies)