In the 21st century, African-American players make up a majority of the rosters; however, it hasn’t always been so.
Under scrutiny for the choice of the team name, the Washington Redskins was the last team in the NFL to integrate the team.
Forced to integrate the team in 1962, then owner George Preston Marshall made a trade with Cleveland to acquire Bobby Mitchell.
He went on to spend seven years on the team and become an All-Pro, rank second in the NFL in yards, play in four Pro Bowls, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. After retiring from the game, Mitchell worked in the team’s front office; spending a total of 41 years with the team.
Team mate Brig Owens called Mitchell their “Jackie Robinson”.
In the wake of multiple protests and the tearing down of statues deemed offensive, including that of Redskins team owner George Marshall, the Redskins have announced that they will retire Mitchell’s number 49 jersey and rename the lower level of FedEx field for the trailblazing player. Mitchell’s name will replace that of the team’s former owner.
Mitchell’s jersey is only the second time the team has retired a jersey in the franchise’s 88 year history.
Mitchell died in April.
feature photo credit: Washington Redskins Facebook page