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Bobby Mitchell And The Kennedy Family, Among Other Presidential Types

Posted by Matt Terl on July 8, 2011 – 5:10 pm

Bobby Mitchell was traded to the Redskins in 1962, finally integrating the Redskins locker room and finding himself in the Nation’s Capital at a crucial time in the racial history of the United States.

“Washington was pretty tough. You wouldn’t believe the number of places that me and my family could not go,” Mitchell told me today, after the media breakfast kicking off his 21st annual Hall Of Fame Golf Classic. “So it was a real, real, real – what we called a – ‘Southern City,’ and I didn’t realize that. Washington is south of Baltimore. I’d be thinking ‘I ain’t going to Baltimore,’ and they said, ‘Oh, you better not go to Washington!’ But you don’t know these things, and it was difficult.”

But Mitchell received some help and guidance from a fairly notable D.C. presence: none other than President John F. Kennedy, along with his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.

“The Kennedys reached out to me,” Mitchell said. “Bobby just grabbed me and kicked me in my behind everyday, and it grew from there.”

Mitchell told a few stories about his presidential encounters in D.C. over the course of the day, and — honestly — I had never heard any of them before. (One of these stories is what led him to allude to Rosey Grier, as mentioned in my earlier post.) There’s not much I can add to them to contextualize, and no real need for my glib commentary on the intersection of D.C. football and actual honest-to-god U.S. history, so I’m just going to post a few of these anecdotes more or less without bloggy interruption — in chronological order, rather than the order in which they were told today.

And there seems to be no better place to start than at Mitchell’s first meeting with the President, which Mitchell told to the assembled crowd at this morning’s kickoff breakfast.

Bobby Mitchell And JFK

“If I had known when I arrived in Washington that I would have a career like I’ve had …. I shoulda known that I was [headed] for something, because when I arrived in town — I had been in town not a few months, and John F. Kennedy was president — [my wife] Gwen and I received an invitation to the White House for a state dinner.

“And we went, obviously. And — this is not racial, so don’t take it that way — in that East Room was me and my wife, Sammy Davis and his wife, and that was about it for black folks. The place was packed with people from all walks of life — I could just rattle off names of great individuals — to be there with the Kennedys.

“And I remember we were standing at the door of the East Room, so crowded that you couldn’t hardly get in there, and I told Gwen, ‘You know what? Let’s go outside the door and stand by the steps, so when the President comes down there’s a very good chance we’ll see him.’

“I said, ‘All these people crowding and breaking their neck to see the President, we’re not gonna get anywhere near him.’

“And we stood at the bottom of the steps, back against the wall, so when he come down the steps and went into the East Room, he had to come by us. ‘Course I didn’t realize that as soon as he started down the steps, all these people were gonna come flyin’ too.

“But we stood back against the wall, and the President and Jackie come down the steps, and when they got the end of the steps, even with the people crowdin’ around, he parted these people — this is the honest truth, folks — he parted the people and walked directly, he and Jackie, to my wife and I. And he said, ‘I’m glad you’re here. There will be others.’

“And Jackie shook our hands; of course, Gwen never washed her hand since then.

“Before they went into that room … and I should’ve known at that point that I was hooked. Because within the next month Bobby [Kennedy] grabbed me, and we were together ’til the day he died.”

The next story, of that connection between the two guys named Bobby, was also told from the podium — this was the one that prompted the Rosey Grier mention, as you’ll see.

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Chris Hanburger Gets To Attend Bobby Mitchell’s Hall Of Fame Golf Classic

Posted by Matt Terl on July 8, 2011 – 2:12 pm

Bobby Mitchell’s Hall Of Fame Golf Classic is — by design — a pretty unique charity event. The golf tournament, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and takes place this weekend at Lansdowne Resort in Virginia, features as its special guests 45 Hall Of Famers from various sports.

You’ll find plenty of charity golf tournaments with that many athletes, but very few — if any — with that many Hall Of Famers. And Mitchell is stringent with that requirement. To wit: during his remarks during today’s pre-event media breakfast (about which much, much more in an upcoming post), Mitchell had reason to allude to Rosey Grier.

Grier was a two-time Pro Bowler. He was also the bodyguard who disarmed Bobby Kennedy’s assassin in California (about which, again, more later). He saw success as an actor, a singer, and an author of books about needlepoint. He is, essentially, the actual Most Interesting Man In The World … and here’s what Mitchell said while introducing him as a character in an anecdote this morning:

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A Slightly More Artistic Side To The FedExField Renovation Photos

Posted by Matt Terl on July 8, 2011 – 9:00 am

The photos of the ongoing renovations at FedExField have largely been utilitarian, focusing more on the removal of sections of the upper deck and less on highlighting how the revamped stadium fits in with the landscaping. In today’s batch, that changes — in addition to cranes and concrete, you get to see flowers, trees, and … well, some more concrete in the parking lot. As always, click the photos to enlarge and head here for more background on the project.

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Hail! Throwback Goes There

Posted by Matt Terl on July 8, 2011 – 7:57 am

Some more strange synchronicity from Ben Ceccarelli, the writer and artist of these Hail! comic strips:

Just after I write an overly long post involving Bill Simmons’ new Grantland website, Ceccarelli sends me a Hail! strip based largely around a slightly off-color anecdote that gained widespread notoriety in a 2002 Simmons column. Go figure.

As always, click the first panel or the Read More link to see the rest of the strip.

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