Bobby Mitchell, who began his Hall of Fame career running out of the backfield alongside Jim Brown, thriving as pass-catcher and serving as a dynamic returner in Cleveland, passed away Sunday.
Mitchell, who was drafted by the Browns and spent four years with the team before his trade to the Washington Redskins, was 84 years old.
"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Bobby Mitchell," Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker said in a statement. "The Game lost a true legend today. Bobby was an incredible player, a talented executive and a real gentleman to everyone with whom he worked or competed against. His wife Gwen and their entire family remain in our thoughts and prayers. The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations."
A seventh-round pick out of Illinois, Mitchell joined the Browns in 1958 and played with the team through 1961. He made an immediate impact, returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, taking back a punt for a touchdown and accumulating 631 yards of offense. In 1959, Mitchell set the Browns' record for longest rushing play -- a 90-yarder in a game against the Redskins in which he finished with a whopping 232 -- that stood as the team record for 59 years before Nick Chubb's 92-yarder against the Falcons in 2018.
Mitchell amassed 2,297 rushing yards, 1,462 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns to go along with six special teams touchdowns over four seasons in Cleveland. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1960, when he posted 1,118 yards of offense and 11 touchdowns and an additional touchdown on special teams.
The Browns traded Mitchell to the Redskins for Ernie Davis, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1962 NFL Draft. Davis, whose No. 45 is retired by the Browns, was later diagnosed with leukemia and passed away at the young age of 23.
Over seven seasons with the Redskins, Mitchell excelled as a flanker and led the league in receiving in his first two years in Washington, as he racked up 1,384 receiving yards in 1962 and a career-best 1,436 in 1963. He made the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons (1962-64) and was an All-NFL player three times.
Mitchell finished his career with 7,954 receiving yards, 2,735 rushing yards, 83 offensive touchdowns and eight special teams touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and was part of the Browns inaugural Ring of Honor class in 2010.
Following his 11-year playing career, Mitchell spent 34 years with the Redskins in a variety of roles, including scout and assistant general manager. He won three Super Bowls in those roles.