NFL

Bobby Mitchell, Redskins' 1st Black player, to have No. 49 retired

The Washington Redskins will retire the jersey of Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, the team's first African American player. They will also rename the lower level of FedEx Field for him, replacing the section named for former owner George Preston Marshall.

NFL team also renames stadium level after Hall of Fame receiver

Bobby Mitchell, Washington's first African American player, will become only the second player in the franchise's 88-year history to have his jersey retired. (Twitter/@Redskins)

The Washington Redskins will retire the jersey of Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. They will also rename the lower level of FedEx Field for him, replacing the section named for former owner George Preston Marshall.

The team, which is under pressure to change its name during the ongoing national reckoning over racism, said Saturday that Mitchell's No. 49 will become only the second jersey in the franchise's 88-year history to be retired. The other is the No. 33 of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh.

Mitchell, Washington's first African American player, died in April.

Significantly, dropping Marshall's name from the lower bowl of the stadium follows by one day the removal of his statue at RFK Stadium, the team's former home. Marshall moved the team from Boston to Washington and resisted integrating the roster with Black players until "forced to do so" in 1962.

NFL legend Jim Brown, left, and Mitchell were a feared duo with the Cleveland Browns before Mitchell was dealt to Washington in 1962. (Harold Filan/The Associated Press)

The team's announcement of the change did not mention Marshall, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963 and died in 1969.

Events DC officials who oversee RFK Stadium in Washington — FedEx Field is in Landover, Maryland — called the removal a "small and overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice."

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