Football in the ‘90s was just beginning to find itself. It was a tough and violent game. The players during that era had certain persona and spunk. Those players are some of the ones that say the game today is becoming to soft today. One player from that era is Brian Mitchell, or B-Mitch, as he has known to be called. He personified tough!
The Washington Redskins in the 5th round of the 1990 NFL Draft drafted Brian Keith Mitchell. He was drafted out of The University of Southwestern Louisiana (now known as The University of Louisiana-Lafayette). There he played QB. He set several NCAA records. He was the first player to pass for more than 5,000 yards and rush for more than 3,000 yards in his college career. He held the record for most TDs as a QB with 47. However, he never returned a punt or kickoff, which is what he became known for as a pro.
Mitchell made a splash during his first season. On the opening kickoff of his first preseason game, as a rookie, he returned it for a TD. This was just the start of something big to come. Mitchell would go on to become one of the best special team return men in the history of the NFL.
During his second season, Mitchell would lead the NFL in Punt return yards (600) and TDs (2). He would continue this success throughout his career as a return man. In ’94 he led the NFL in punt return average (14.1) and TDs (2). He led the league in combined yards from ’94-’96 and then also in ’98. He is only one of 2 players to lead the league in that category 4 or more times. The other was the great Jim Brown.
The Redskins following the 1999 season would eventually release Mitchell. He would go on to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles where he would continue his spectacular returning ways. He was the only player in 2002 to be ranked in the top 3 of both kickoff and punt return categories. On November 25th, 2002 he returned a punt 76 yards for a TD against the San Francisco 49ers. This was Brian’s 13th kick return for a TD breaking the tie he had with return specialist Eric Metcalf and placing B-Mitch first in the record books. He also set the record for single game kick return yards that week.
Brian Mitchell would go on to play one season with the New York Giants. They would release him prior to the 2004 season. This would be the last team Mitchell would play for during an exceptional 3-team career as one of the best return men in the game.
B-Mitch would sign a one-day contract with the Washington Redskins in 2004. He did this so that he could retire as a member of the Redskins. He continues to be involved with the team as a NFL analyst for Comcast Sportsnet and ESPN980. He is often seen as the voice of passion and toughness.
Brian Mitchell will always be one of my favorite players of all time. He loved the game of football for what it was. He played with passion. B-Mitch was often seen as the troublemaker, scrum starter, and dirty player. This was a result of the way he played the game. His no non-sense approach was one of a kind.
Brian Mitchell is not only one of the 70 Greatest Redskins, but he is also one of the greatest NFLers of all-time. Eventually, one day, he should be in Hall of Fame. Thank you Brian Keith Mitchell. Forever a Redskin! Always HTTR!