WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Friday, a film about Jackie Robinson the man who broke baseball's color barrier hits the big screen. WUSA9's Bruce Johnson speaks with a local legend who also broke a color barrier.
At age 77, Bobby Mitchell, former Redskins player and NFL Hall of Famer, is retired from the Redskins front office. A former superstar receiver with more than 14,000 combined yards in the air and on the ground, few people know that as a young man in high school he played football, basketball, track and was so good at baseball he was offered a professional contract.
However, Mitchell chose the University of Illinois over the field of dreams. He went on to play with the Cleveland Browns (1958-1961) in the backfield with Jim Brown.
Then Mitchell was traded to the Washington Redskins (1962-1968). He became the first African American to sign and star for the team. And he continued at a Pro Bowl pace. When he retired from playing the game in 1968, his 14,078 combined net yards was the second highest total in NFL history. Plus he scored 91 touchdowns.
However, when off the field, it's no exaggeration to say Bobby Mitchell caught hell in segregated Washington, DC. He tells WUSA9's Bruce Johnson about the numerous times he was not allowed in restaurants.
Mitchell played for ten years in the National Football League. He was with the Redskins a total of 40 years between playing on the field and in the front office. There were four Pro Bowls. Twice he lead the league in receiving. There were 83 touchdowns.