The NFL has finally begun to take a stand and join its players in supporting the cause of racial justice and ending police brutality. The Washington Redskins have been under special scrutiny for the past couple of weeks -- the reasons are obvious -- but they finally took a step in the right direction Saturday.
Washington, DC's beloved football team has made the decision to retire the No. 49 in honor of Bobby Mitchell, the franchise's first African-American player. He is now the second player to have his number retired by the organization, with the first being Sammy Baugh (No. 33).
Additionally, the lower bowl of FedEx Field will be renamed after Mitchell. This is especially notable given that it was peviously been namd for controversial former owner George Preston Marshall, who notoriously opposed the signing of Black players.
Washington said the decision has been discussed for quite some time, but it came one day after a monument to Marshall was removed from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the team's former home. Marshall owned the Redskins from 1932 until his death in 1969, and he's notorious for being the last owner in the league to integrate his team.
Mitchell was a running back for the Cleveland Browns for four years before being traded to Washington for Ernie Davis. While in the nation's capital, Mitchell transitioned into a flanker and a kick returner.
In his seven seasons with Washington, Mitchell caught 393 passes for 6,492 yards and 49 touchdowns, while returning 40 kickoffs for 1,140 yards and two scores. He led the entire NFL in receiving yards, was named to three Pro Bowls with Washington, and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 1962.
He earned induction into the Pro Football hall of Fame in 1983.
Unfortunately, Mitchell won't be here to accept this honor, as he passed away in April at the age of 84. All told, however, his memory will live on at FedEx Field and throughout Washington football fandom forever.