Bobby Mitchell, the first African American player to sign with the Washington Redskins, passed away on Sunday, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 84.
"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Bobby Mitchell. The Game lost a true legend today," David Baker, the Hall of Fame's president and CEO, said in a statement. "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."
His professional football career began as a seventh-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 1958. In 1962, he made team history when he was traded to the Redskins.
That season, he led the league in receptions (72) and receiving yards (1,384). The following season, Mitchell caught 69 passes for a league-leading 1,436 yards. He also tied an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown reception against his former team.
During his first six seasons with the Redskins, he never caught fewer than 58 passes. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
"I was extremely saddened to hear the news about the passing of the great Bobby Mitchell. Bobby was a Hall of Fame player and executive and represented the Washington Redskins organization with integrity for over 50 years," team owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. "His passion for the game of football was unmatched by anyone I have ever met. Not only was he one of the most influential individuals in franchise history, but he was also one of the greatest men I have ever known. He was a true class act and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Gwen and the entire Mitchell family during this time."
He finished his 11-year NFL career with 14,078 total yards. He had 91 career touchdowns, including 65 receiving and 18 rushing. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.
Information from contributed to this report.