The Washington Football Team paid tribute to late Hall of Famer and franchise legend Bobby Mitchell with an on-field ceremony with his family to retire his No. 49 on Thursday before their Week 2 game against the New York Giants. Washington also unveiled signage for the main concourse, which had been renamed in his honor.
Mitchell spent four decades with the Washington organization. He was the first African American player to wear the burgundy and gold upon being traded to the franchise in 1962. The former seventh-round pick converted to receiver in DC and played seven seasons for the team before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983. He moved into the team’s front office after retiring and worked up from scout to assistant general manager.
“Bobby was a pioneer and trailblazer for equality and civil rights for our organization and football throughout his remarkable career,” Washington Football Team President Jason Wright said in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating Bobby and his significant contributions to our Club and sport during our Sept. 16 game and, with Bobby as our example, we will continue to push for equality within our organization, community and sports overall.”
In addition to hosting the ceremony, all Washington players wore a No. 49 sticker on their helmets for Thursday’s game. Mitchell died April 5, 2020, and the team had memorial patches sewn onto their jerseys all last season.