It’s easy to vote first-year eligible Randy Moss, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 3. Three no-brainers that leave maybe three slots remaining.
One of those slots should be former Washington Redskins special teamer Brian Mitchell.
Joe Jacoby enters his last chance before needing to be approved by the veterans committee. After two close calls, it’s unlikely the third time will be the charm. If it was going to happen, it would have last time.
It’s time to move on to Mitchell. And frankly, to receiver Gary Clark, who’s not on the list with three years remaining of eligibility. Former Redskins defensive coordinator/coach Richie Petitbon, coach Marty Schottenheimer, running back Earnest Byner, receiver Henry Ellard and linebacker Wilber Marshall are also among 108 nominees that will be pared to 25, and then 10, before the final vote on Feb. 3.
Mitchell is clearly Canton worthy. He was the best special teamer of his era, a sound running back and one of the smarter players on the field.
Voters have long been reluctant to vote for special teamers, which is dumb. But the 2014 induction of punter Ray Guy should make it easier for Mitchell’s approval.
Mitchell retired second only to Jerry Rice in career all-purpose yards with 23,330 in 223 games over 14 seasons. Mitchell was a staple on the Redskins from 1990-99 before he was released to make room for Deion Sanders’ contract. Mitchell then played for Philadelphia in 2000-02 and the New York Giants in 2003 before retiring.
It was a great career, averaging more than 10 yards on punt returns in nine seasons and a league-leading 14.1 yards in 1994. He also averaged more than 20 yards per kick return every season with 13 career combined return touchdowns. Mitchell rushed for 1,967 yards with 12 touchdowns as a running back plus 255 receptions for 2,336 yards and four touchdowns.
Special teamers are rarely team leaders. But, Mitchell was clearly among those heard in the locker room while also baiting opponents into penalties with his taunting.
Former Washington general manager Bobby Beathard is the veterans committee selection, subject to overall approval in February. Hopefully, his former draft pick joins him.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.