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Bobby Mitchell passes away at age of 84

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Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, who began his memorable career with Browns, passes away

https://www.clevelandbrowns.com/news/hall-of-famer-bobby-mitchell-who-began-his-memorable-career-with-browns-passes-a

 

Saw Bobby play for us in my youth. Damn good runner, but came into his own as a WR after he was traded to WSH.

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I still feel that the Browns' backfield of Jimmy Brown & Bobby Mitchell was the best I've ever seen.

RIP Bobby!

Mike 

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Mitchell was a great and under-rated player. He deserved a lot more recognition for not only his playing but for breaking the racial barrier (1st black player on the Redskins).

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6 hours ago, Barry said:

Mitchell was a great and under-rated player. He deserved a lot more recognition for not only his playing but for breaking the racial barrier (1st black player on the Redskins).

Welcome to the BB Barry

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8 hours ago, Barry said:

Mitchell was a great and under-rated player. He deserved a lot more recognition for not only his playing but for breaking the racial barrier (1st black player on the Redskins).

Well....he is on the HOF,  so I think that right there proves he was recognized and appreciated.  But, you are right...the Redskins owner was an avowed racist. 

But, see how the worm has turned:   the city of Washington DC  threatened the Redskins that they would not allow the team further use of the stadium if the Redskins did not integrate, and they succumbed to that pressure. 

Can you imagine some NFL owner today succumbing to such a tactic?  Today the owner would just say "fine"...I am moving the team to...you name it..San Antonio or the like. 

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19 minutes ago, The Gipper said:

Well....he is on the HOF,  so I think that right there proves he was recognized and appreciated.  But, you are right...the Redskins owner was an avowed racist. 

But, see how the worm has turned:   the city of Washington DC  threatened the Redskins that they would not allow the team further use of the stadium if the Redskins did not integrate, and they succumbed to that pressure. 

Can you imagine some NFL owner today succumbing to such a tactic?  Today the owner would just say "fine"...I am moving the team to...you name it..San Antonio or the like. 

Yes, it sure was a different time. That trade was also significant in Art Modell firing Paul Brown, as P.B. made that trade without telling Modell. When the owner of the Redskins found that out he called Modell, who was, of course, a new owner, and said "You own that team. You should never let that happen again," That set the ball rolling for Brown's ultimate firing, if it hadn't begun already.

This may be treading on hallowed ground, but you have to wonder what P.B. was thinking when he made this trade. Mitchell had an Olympic qualifying time in the 100 yd dash, had been averaging 5.3 ypc, and, when he was traded to the Redskins and converted to a WR, made the All-Pro team the next 3 years. In fact, his being in the HOF was more the result of his pass receiving than running. Plus he was young. He was the perfect complement to Jim Brown. So what was PB thinking? Even with Ernie Davis being heralded as much as he was, there wasn't much room for improvement even if Davis lived up to expectations.

Along with trading away Willie Davis, another HOF, these two trades by PB are unfortunately put on the negative side of the ledger, imo.

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Well...along with Willie Davis and Bobby Mitchell,  PB also traded away:  Henry Jordan  HOF,  Dick LeBeau  HOF, Len Dawson HOF, and Doug Atkins  HOF

I do think it possible that once Otto Graham retired that  PB lost his mojo.......but, nevertheless, the team of the 1960s that appeared in like 4 NFL/NFC title games was still mainly players brought in by PB, with obvious notable additions like Warfield and Kelly.  So, while he got rid of good players, he still kept a lot of good players. 

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All of us who remember Bobby Mitchell play can be officially in the old geezers club of America.

Mitchell and Brown one great backfield, RIP Mr Mitchell.

 

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6 minutes ago, mjp28 said:

All of us who remember Bobby Mitchell play can be officially in the old geezers club of America.

Mitchell and Brown one great backfield, RIP Mr Mitchell.

 

How do you know I'm not a 12-year old kid who just reads up on ancient Browns history?! 😁 Actually, I started watching the Browns in '65. I hated no team as much as I hated the Packers. I still grimace when I see that f*in G on their helmet.

 

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6 minutes ago, Barry said:

How do you know I'm not a 12-year old kid who just reads up on ancient Browns history?! 😁 Actually, I started watching the Browns in '65. I hated no team as much as I hated the Packers. I still grimace when I see that f*in G on their helmet.

 

Ok if you actually remember watching Bobby Mitchell in a Cleveland Browns uniform......and not just a football card or highlights.....you're a geezer.

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"I'm a geezer... you're a geezer... he's a geezer... JB's a geezer...

Wouldn't you like to be a geezer, too?"

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1 hour ago, The Gipper said:

Well...along with Willie Davis and Bobby Mitchell,  PB also traded away:  Henry Jordan  HOF,  Dick LeBeau  HOF, Len Dawson HOF, and Doug Atkins  HOF

I do think it possible that once Otto Graham retired that  PB lost his mojo.......but, nevertheless, the team of the 1960s that appeared in like 4 NFL/NFC title games was still mainly players brought in by PB, with obvious notable additions like Warfield and Kelly.  So, while he got rid of good players, he still kept a lot of good players. 

Offense was always PB's strong suit. If one is totally objective the Browns have had very few dominant defensive players compared to many other teams. And fwiw Kelly and Warfield were drafted right before the '64 season, after PB was gone and when Blanton Collier was onboard.

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1 hour ago, mjp28 said:

Ok if you actually remember watching Bobby Mitchell in a Cleveland Browns uniform......and not just a football card or highlights.....you're a geezer.

Bobby Mitchell was gone before 1965.  To be honest,  I don't really remember Bobby Mitchell playing for the Browns.  The first seasons I recall were either  '62 or '63....definitely by 1963.  My Dad was NOT much of a sports fan, so he did not "indoctrinate" me into sports...or the Browns  like many Dads did for younger kids. Though I did start playing some little league baseball around  8, I didn't follow the Browns/Indians until I was like 10.  Dad was not watching football on TV much  (maybe a little on like Thanksgiving....though usually he went out hunting...and maybe some on New Year's Day for the Bowl games...that's about it).  Also, with  6 kids in the family....one TV set, and 3 older sisters...how often do you think I got to watch sports that I may have wanted on TV?  Often as not I had to go to a neighbor kids house to watch the Browns and Indians.  Or listen to them on radio. 

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38 minutes ago, Tour2ma said:

"I'm a geezer... you're a geezer... he's a geezer... JB's a geezer...

Wouldn't you like to be a geezer, too?"

My facebook photo, entitled:   Two geysers and a geezer;  (Old Faithful and The Beehive geyser with simultaneous eruptions....pretty rare)

Image may contain: Thomas Gipson, standing, sky and outdoor

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30 minutes ago, Barry said:

Offense was always PB's strong suit. If one is totally objective the Browns have had very few dominant defensive players compared to many other teams. And fwiw Kelly and Warfield were drafted right before the '64 season, after PB was gone and when Blanton Collier was onboard.

Certainly, when it comes to the Hall of Fame.....the Browns Dynasty years were more stacked with HOF offensive players than with defensive players:  OG, Motley,  Lavelli, Speedie,  Gatski, Groza, MacCormack.  Only Bill Willis and Len Ford made HOF from those defenses. 

Not sure what the motivations were for trading Atkins,  Jordan, Davis, LeBeau...  At least with  Mitchell we know that his motivation was to have  Ernie Davis.  

Let's face it....Ernie Davis was  5 years younger than JB.....and you know that today we say that the shelf life for an NFL RB is only about 5 years....so maybe PB was thinking that too when he went to get Davis.  Or maybe he was thinking that he wanted a true    dual backfield threat.    Like  Csonka/Kiick....or Mack/Byner  etc.    Maybe he didn't feel that Bobby Mitchell, who was a halfback a lot here, gave him that dual RB threat. 

But let's also face this:  Kelley was an 8th round draft pick that they struck gold with.    It is not like the Browns did not try to get other RBs in the draft to go along with...or replace JB.  Names like the following, all of who were 8th round or higher running backs taken between 1957 and 1966:

Ray Reese

Kirk Wilson

Bob White

Bob  Jarus

Preston Powell

Leroy Jackson....first round pick

Tom Bloom

Frank Baker

Bill Mumse

Bo Scott, 

Larry Conjur

Randy Shulz.

Other than maybe Bo Scott....none of these ring much of a bell for Browns fans....even those our age. 

 

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2 hours ago, The Gipper said:

Certainly, when it comes to the Hall of Fame.....the Browns Dynasty years were more stacked with HOF offensive players than with defensive players:  OG, Motley,  Lavelli, Speedie,  Gatski, Groza, MacCormack.  Only Bill Willis and Len Ford made HOF from those defenses. 

Not sure what the motivations were for trading Atkins,  Jordan, Davis, LeBeau...  At least with  Mitchell we know that his motivation was to have  Ernie Davis.  

Let's face it....Ernie Davis was  5 years younger than JB.....and you know that today we say that the shelf life for an NFL RB is only about 5 years....so maybe PB was thinking that too when he went to get Davis.  Or maybe he was thinking that he wanted a true    dual backfield threat.    Like  Csonka/Kiick....or Mack/Byner  etc.    Maybe he didn't feel that Bobby Mitchell, who was a halfback a lot here, gave him that dual RB threat. 

But let's also face this:  Kelley was an 8th round draft pick that they struck gold with.    It is not like the Browns did not try to get other RBs in the draft to go along with...or replace JB.  Names like the following, all of who were 8th round or higher running backs taken between 1957 and 1966:

Ray Reese

Kirk Wilson

Bob White

Bob  Jarus

Preston Powell

Leroy Jackson....first round pick

Tom Bloom

Frank Baker

Bill Mumse

Bo Scott, 

Larry Conjur

Randy Shulz.

Other than maybe Bo Scott....none of these ring much of a bell for Browns fans....even those our age. 

 

You forgot the best one- Ernie Green! And here is where it gets interesting. A casual observer would look at Green and see that in 6 full seasons he averaged 4.8 ypc on 660 attempts, and 10.4+ ypr on 179 receptions- not a bad career at all. Yet in the day he was best known for his blocking for J.B. (and unselfish play). Incidentally the guy became very successful after football and is rightly considered an excellent CEO.

Also, I think your list includes players drafted after Paul Brown left. For example, I know Bo Scott was because I remember him and when he was drafted (1968 I believe). I don't remember the others but if we just stick to players we know whom P.B. drafted, his choice of running mate to JB is still curious. Of those ones you list who were selected by PB, I don't know what their toolbox of skills were like, e.g. were they selected for their running ability and to be Batman II to JB, or for their blocking ability (and running/passing second) in order to be Robin to JB's Batman?

But back to Bobby Mitchell, Ernie Davis and Ernie Green. Yep, you could be right that PB didn't care for Mitchell much. It is interesting to note that Mitchell was outspoken for the time (he later joined JB and Muhammed Ali to protest Ali getting drafted) and maybe rubbed PB the wrong way- JB he would have to accept but not Mitchell. While Mitchell and Davis were very similar to what they brought to the table, Green was a completely different animal, and therefore offered a very different philosophy to PB's offensive scheme. So PB went with Mitchell, then Davis and then turned left and went with Green. Would have been interesting to ask him why he did that but of course we can't.

But who knows, maybe we are over thinking and PB just took the Rb he felt was best and figured he would fit him into the system.

 

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Ernie Green was not drafted by the Browns between  57-66...in the first 8 rounds. 

In checking....he was a 14th round pick in 1962.   I didn't look that far down in the draft order.   Its like Ernest Byner.  10th round pick.

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9 hours ago, Barry said:

Yes, it sure was a different time. That trade was also significant in Art Modell firing Paul Brown, as P.B. made that trade without telling Modell. When the owner of the Redskins found that out he called Modell, who was, of course, a new owner, and said "You own that team. You should never let that happen again," That set the ball rolling for Brown's ultimate firing, if it hadn't begun already.

This may be treading on hallowed ground, but you have to wonder what P.B. was thinking when he made this trade. Mitchell had an Olympic qualifying time in the 100 yd dash, had been averaging 5.3 ypc, and, when he was traded to the Redskins and converted to a WR, made the All-Pro team the next 3 years. In fact, his being in the HOF was more the result of his pass receiving than running. Plus he was young. He was the perfect complement to Jim Brown. So what was PB thinking? Even with Ernie Davis being heralded as much as he was, there wasn't much room for improvement even if Davis lived up to expectations.

Along with trading away Willie Davis, another HOF, these two trades by PB are unfortunately put on the negative side of the ledger, imo.

Great post.

I agree, a Jim Brown/Bobby Mitchell backfield made more sense than Paul Brown trading Mitchell for another fullback.

And the 60s Browns might have won more than one title if Brown hadn't traded away so many talented defensive players. That's the difference between the 50s Browns and the 60s Browns - a stellar defense vs an average one. 

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10 hours ago, Barry said:

You forgot the best one- Ernie Green! And here is where it gets interesting. A casual observer would look at Green and see that in 6 full seasons he averaged 4.8 ypc on 660 attempts, and 10.4+ ypr on 179 receptions- not a bad career at all. Yet in the day he was best known for his blocking for J.B. (and unselfish play). Incidentally the guy became very successful after football and is rightly considered an excellent CEO.

Also, I think your list includes players drafted after Paul Brown left. For example, I know Bo Scott was because I remember him and when he was drafted (1968 I believe). I don't remember the others but if we just stick to players we know whom P.B. drafted, his choice of running mate to JB is still curious. Of those ones you list who were selected by PB, I don't know what their toolbox of skills were like, e.g. were they selected for their running ability and to be Batman II to JB, or for their blocking ability (and running/passing second) in order to be Robin to JB's Batman?

But back to Bobby Mitchell, Ernie Davis and Ernie Green. Yep, you could be right that PB didn't care for Mitchell much. It is interesting to note that Mitchell was outspoken for the time (he later joined JB and Muhammed Ali to protest Ali getting drafted) and maybe rubbed PB the wrong way- JB he would have to accept but not Mitchell. While Mitchell and Davis were very similar to what they brought to the table, Green was a completely different animal, and therefore offered a very different philosophy to PB's offensive scheme. So PB went with Mitchell, then Davis and then turned left and went with Green. Would have been interesting to ask him why he did that but of course we can't.

But who knows, maybe we are over thinking and PB just took the Rb he felt was best and figured he would fit him into the system.

 

Yes, those guys named after Jackson....who was PBs first round pick in 1962.   Scott etc.  (again....why draft a RB in round one when you have the Greatest ever playing for you?)  ...are post  Paul Brown.    I was just talking about guys they took at some point to replace/supplement JB)

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39 minutes ago, The Gipper said:

Yes, those guys named after Jackson....who was PBs first round pick in 1962.   Scott etc.  (again....why draft a RB in round one when you have the Greatest ever playing for you?)  ...are post  Paul Brown.    I was just talking about guys they took at some point to replace/supplement JB)

One day I might look at several coaches and compare their drafting record. I mean it goes without saying how important drafting is but no one really compares coaches' drafting records that much. I did do that with Belichick and Walsh and a couple of other modern-day coaches (forget who) and Walsh beat all of them in terms of percentage of Pro Bowl players and HOFers he chose. Would like to see how he stands up against Noll.

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3 minutes ago, Barry said:

One day I might look at several coaches and compare their drafting record. I mean it goes without saying how important drafting is but no one really compares coaches' drafting records that much. I did do that with Belichick and Walsh and a couple of other modern-day coaches (forget who) and Walsh beat all of them in terms of percentage of Pro Bowl players and HOFers he chose. Would like to see how he stands up against Noll.

Well....the thing is, it is not so much the coaches that are doing the drafting.   Some do...you noted BB and Walsh.  And certainly I assume most coaches have input if not direct say into who is being drafted.....expecially in early rounds. 

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34 minutes ago, The Gipper said:

Well....the thing is, it is not so much the coaches that are doing the drafting.   Some do...you noted BB and Walsh.  And certainly I assume most coaches have input if not direct say into who is being drafted.....expecially in early rounds. 

It wouldn't be perfect but still interesting, though I would guess coaches had more say in the 60s-70s, before things got so segmented. Another factor would be if success is defined by a player making a Pro- Bowl, it was a lot easier to make it back then, when there were less teams. But hell, it's the off-season!

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On 4/5/2020 at 10:52 PM, Canton Mike said:

I still feel that the Browns' backfield of Jimmy Brown & Bobby Mitchell was the best I've ever seen.

RIP Bobby!

Mike 

I totally agree.

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I still feel that the Browns' backfield of Jimmy Brown & Bobby Mitchell was the best I've ever seen.

RIP Bobby!

Mike 

I totally agree.

Are there any other backfield pairs where both made the HOF?

Off the top of my head there was the contemporary duo of  Jim Taylor/Paul Hornung.

Oh, and there was this,  a QB plus THREE  RBs all in the same backfield that made the HOF:

The Million Dollar Backfield was a National Football League (NFL) offensive backfield of the San Francisco 49ers from 1954 to 1956. Featuringquarterback Y. A. Tittle, halfbacks Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, and fullback Joe Perry,

Any others?

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43 minutes ago, The Gipper said:

I still feel that the Browns' backfield of Jimmy Brown & Bobby Mitchell was the best I've ever seen.

RIP Bobby!

Mike 

I totally agree.

Are there any other backfield pairs where both made the HOF?

Off the top of my head there was the contemporary duo of  Jim Taylor/Paul Hornung.

Oh, and there was this,  a QB plus THREE  RBs all in the same backfield that made the HOF:

The Million Dollar Backfield was a National Football League (NFL) offensive backfield of the San Francisco 49ers from 1954 to 1956. Featuringquarterback Y. A. Tittle, halfbacks Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, and fullback Joe Perry,

Any others?

It was only for 3 years but the LA Raiders had Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson in the same backfield (1987-90). Bo would have been in the HOF had he not gotten injured.

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53 minutes ago, Barry said:

It was only for 3 years but the LA Raiders had Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson in the same backfield (1987-90). Bo would have been in the HOF had he not gotten injured.

Well, OK, maybe.   Or, maybe if he had spent those couple of years in the NFL instead of playing baseball.   

Or  baseball fans could say that if he had not played football and just stuck to baseball, he would have had a HOF career there,  and not have gotten the hip injury that he did. 

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