"I'd been through being a first before," Mitchell said. "At Illinois, I was selected to integrate a dorm. And with a white student, not an athlete." Many of his teammates didn't exactly welcome him, either. "They were used to playing mediocre football and still being in the paper," he said. "All of a sudden, I'm raising a little hell on the field, so I was getting in the paper. It was a little tough on `em. And they got the rumors, too, that maybe I'm making more money than some of `em." In fact, because of his remarkable record with the Browns, Mitchell had arrived as the highest-paid Redskins player.
"I always had something going on" during his seven seasons playing for the Redskins, Mitchell said. "Some of the whites didn't want me there, and the blacks got mad if I'd drop the ball. To the blacks, I had to be perfect. But Norm Snead was great. He just wanted to throw the ball to a guy who would go get it. And Dickie James was a helluva guy. [Guard]Vince Promuto, of course, didn't give a damn what color you were. So there were some guys, Vinnie, [tackle] Frannie O'Brien. Super people."
Mitchell's arrival was the first of a series of dramatic Redskins changes from 1962, when he took the field for the first time, through the end of the decade. Mitchell him- self was switched from running back to flanker, making him even more effective. There were three different coaches in the period McPeak, Graham and Lombardi and two of the biggest trades in team history for Jurgensen and Huff.
All of that came during the most important change, the transition in decision-making from Marshall to Edward Bennett Williams, the brilliant Washington attorney who first made a name for himself by defending such high-profile figures as Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, mob boss Frank Costello and red-baiting Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. Williams had a lifelong passion for sports, especially boxing and baseball, and had, in fact, sought unsuccessfully to acquire a baseball franchise for Washington.
He also had cultivated a relationship with Marshall, starting in the 1950s. According to Robert Pack's 1983 biography, Edward Bennett Williams for the Defense, Williams nearly bought the 25 percent interest in the team that later was sold to Cooke, stock that had been owned by Redskins broadcaster Harry Wismer. Williams' private arguments urg- ing Marshall to integrate the Redskins cooled their relationship for a time. But on March 28, 1962 after the trade for Bobby Mitchell Marshall let Williams buy 38 shares of stock, or 3.8 percent of the team, for $58,463. Later that year, he bought 12 more shares, raising his stake to 5 percent.