Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Former Washington Redskins linebacker Kevin Mitchell died early yesterday morning in his sleep at his Ashburn home at the age of 36, according to the team.
Mitchell, who played for Washington from 2000 to '03, brought a hard-nosed approach and veteran leadership to the defense and special teams. Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Mitchell attended Syracuse and was a second-round draft pick by San Francisco in 1994. He spent four years with the 49ers and two with New Orleans before coming to Washington.
Several family members told the Patriot News, Mitchell's hometown paper, that Mitchell died of a heart attack. The Associated Press reported that an autopsy was performed by the Virginia state medical examiner's office. The cause of death was not immediately announced.
Mitchell and his wife, Denise, and their two children, Jonathan, 4, and Kayla, 2, remained in Virginia after his tenure with the Redskins ended. Defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn said the family was struggling to cope.
"She doesn't know why it happened, and from what I heard he was in great health and had shed 20, 30 pounds," Wynn said. "It's just so unfortunate and he was so young and it's so unexpected. It's just devastating to the whole Redskin family and all the people he touched. He was a great guy. I don't think no one had anything bad to say about Kevin at all."
Redskins wide receiver James Thrash was particularly close to Mitchell, teammates said, and former Redskin Eddie Mason, a linebacker with the team from 1999 to 2002, lives nearby and was one of Mitchell's closest friends. Mitchell played for four head coaches with the Redskins but was let go shortly after Coach Joe Gibbs put together his staff before the 2004 season.
"I walked into Redskins Park this morning and saw tears and wondered what's going on," said linebacker Lemar Marshall, who last spoke to Mitchell a month ago. "When I found out K-Mitch had passed I was deeply saddened. . . . The entire Redskins family got to put our heads together and make sure things are taken care of for his family."
-- Jason La Canfora