The Washington Redskins will retire the Number 49, to honor Bobby Mitchell, the first African American player in the team’s history. Mitchell played running back for the Redskins from 1962 through 1968.
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Redskins owner Dan Snyder announced the move with a statement: “There is no one more deserving of these honors than the late Bobby Mitchell. Bobby was one of the most influential players not only in our team’s history, but in the National Football League. He excelled on the field, in the front office and most importantly in his community where he had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many through his charitable efforts. He was one of the greatest men I have ever known.”
49 is only the second number retired in Redskins history, following Sammy Baugh’s No. 33.
Former Redskins safety Brig Owens praised the move and spoke about Mitchell in the press release: “Bobby was our Jackie Robinson,” he said. “He had to handle the pressure of being the first African American football player to integrate the Washington Redskins. He, like Jackie, was a military officer headquartered in the DC area when he received notice of his trade. In the face of great adversity, he served as a role model for the Washington, D.C. community, The Redskins, its fan base and the NFL. He was more than an exceptional football player and athlete, he was an exceptional human being. He was like a brother to me.”
The Redskins will hold a number-retirement ceremony during an undecided home game in the future.