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Former Redskin Kevin Mitchell Passes Away

As a rookie special teamer with the San Francisco 49ers, Kevin Mitchell made it to Super Bowl XXIX, the one in which the 49ers buried San Diego 49-26.

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As a veteran linebacker with the Redskins, Mitchell made the pivotal play in the heralded 2000 Baltimore-Washington clash at FedExField. His end zone interception of a Tony Banks pass sparked the Redskins to a 10-3 win in one of the best games ever staged at FedExField.

And yet, it's a true oversight to speak of Kevin Mitchell as just an NFL player. He was that, and much more.

The entire Redskins organization was shocked and saddened to learn of Mitchell's passing on Monday morning. He was 36.

"Kevin and his family are in my thoughts and prayers today, and in the prayers of the entire Redskins organization," owner Daniel M. Snyder said. "He was one of the first players I bonded with and was a great family man.

"Anyone who knew him was touched by his smile, joy for life and love of his family. Anyone who ever played with him or against him never forgot it. He earned our deepest respect."

Mitchell, who played with the Redskins between 2000-03, should be remembered as a kind-hearted and outgoing sort, a devoted family man with strong religious and spiritual roots.

A native of Harrisburg, Pa., Mitchell was drafted in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft by San Francisco, who had high hopes for the 6-1, 260-pound linebacker out of Syracuse.

He came to the Redskins six years later in a deal orchestrated by Vinny Cerrato, currently the Redskins' vice president of football operations and formerly a 49ers administrator.

With the Redskins, Mitchell formed a close bond with players such as LaVar Arrington, Shawn Barber, Kenard Lang, James Thrash, Eddie Mason and others, who referred to themselves as the "20147 gang," owing to the Ashburn, Va., zip code.

Following his playing days, Mitchell continued to live in the Ashburn area. He made a brief visit to Redskins Park one day this offseason, and anyone who spotted him in the building that day came upon that infectious smile.

A true fan of all professional sports, Mitchell always enjoyed discussing NBA developments. If you wanted to draw him into a good-natured argument, all you had to do was challenge him regarding the L.A. Lakers, his favorite NBA team, or Kobe Bryant.

In 1998-99. Mitchell played for the New Orleans Saints. During that period the Saints had another Mitchell at linebacker, Keith Mitchell out of Texas A&M. Years later, Kevin Mitchell used to joke about how frequently he was mistaken for his New Orleans teammate with the same surname and a similar first name.

Mitchell hasn't been a part of the Redskins since the 2004 training camp. And yet, that day this offseason when he visited Redskins Park, it was as if he had never left the premises.

His legacy within the organization: he was a solid football player but even more so an outstanding person.

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