In all the furor over the Brian Mitchell-Clinton Portis blowup on the John Thompson Show on ESPN 980 Tuesday, one of the issues has been Mitchell’s credentials as a player.
This is absurd. Mitchell is the greatest return man in the history of the NFL, and I think belongs in the Hall of Fame.
His 23,316 total yards ranks second only to Jerry Rice. He averaged a remarkable 23.1 yards per kick return and 10.8 yards per punt return over a 14-year career. And for those who think he doesn’t have the bonafides to talk about running back, Mitchell carried the ball 388 times for 1,967 yards, a 5.1 yard-per-carry average. And 1,751 of those yards came with Washington, which puts him eighth all time among Redskins ball carriers.
In the early days of Mitchell’s career, coach Joe Gibbs used to struggle with the temptation to use him more in the backfield, fearing putting him at risk as a return man, where he had a tremendous impact on games. It is the same issue that faced the Chicago Bears with the use of Devin Hester.