In the near-88-year history of the Washington Redskins franchise, only one number had ever been retired: Sammy Baugh's No. 33. Only one, until Saturday.
Washington announced it is retiring No. 49 in honor of Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. In addition to that rare honor, the 'Skins are naming the lower bowl at FedEx Field after Mitchell.
The lower bowl had previously been named after former Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, whose statue outside Washington's old home at RFK Stadium was removed Friday after being vandalized.
"There is no one more deserving of these honors than the late Bobby Mitchell," Washington owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. "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."
Mitchell, who died in April, was the franchise's first Black player after the organization was the last to integrate in 1962. After spending the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns, Mitchell was traded to D.C. in 1962 along with Leroy Jackson for Ernie Davis.
Mitchell led the league in receiving in 1962 and 1963 and receptions in '62. He was named to four Pro Bowls, three with Washington from 1962 through 1964, and was a first-team All-Pro in '62, when he hauled in 72 catches for 1,382 yards and 11 scores.
After 11 years in the league. Mitchell retired after the 1968 season with 1,034 touches, 10,689 yards from scrimmage and 83 total TDs. An electric return man, Mitchell also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns during his career.
He was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Following his playing days, Mitchell spent the rest of of his football life as an executive with the Redskins organization, rising to the rank of assistant general manager. Altogether, he spent 41 years with the organization, winning three Super Bowls as an exec.
The last Redskins player to wear No. 49 was tight end Leonard Stephens, who briefly wore it in 2002, per Pro Football Reference. He will be the last active player to do so in burgundy and gold.
Mitchell's jersey will be officially retired at a jersey ceremony at a future home game, the team said.
"This honor would have meant the world to him," Mitchell's daughter, Terri, said in a statement. "He would have been thrilled, appreciative and humbled. He felt that the retiring of a jersey is the ultimate recognition of an athlete. My father was a great family man who would have embraced this well-deserved recognition of his many accomplishments."