(Reuters) – Bobby Mitchell, the first black player to compete for the Washington Redkins, has died at the age of 84, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Sunday.
No cause of death was given.
Mitchell played his first four seasons in the National Football League for the Cleveland Browns, before moving in 1962 to the Redskins, who were the last NFL team to sign a black player.
The Redskins were owned at the time by George Preston Marshall, who reportedly overlooked black players for draft choices until he was pressured by President John F. Kennedy to integrate.
The Redskins at the time played at D.C. Stadium, which was owned by the federal government.
Mitchell was an immediate hit in Washington, leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards in his first season in the national capital.
After an illustrious career during which he earned four Pro-Bowl selections, Mitchell retired in 1968, but remained with the team in an administrative capacity, working his way up to assistant general manager.
Current team owner Dan Snyder said Mitchell represented the Redskins with “integrity for over 50 years.”
“His passion for the game of football was unmatched by anyone I have ever met,” Snyder said in a statement.
“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.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christopher Cushing