Q&A With Brian Mitchell

B-Mitch wanted to retire as a Redskin and will do so Wednesday. Though he continued to play well after leaving Washington, his best days were here. And that's one of the reasons he approached the Redskins about signing for one day so he could retire in Washington. He talked about that decision as well as other facets from his career.

Q: Why retire as a Redskin? 
A: It's just something I wanted to do. I really wanted to do it for the fans. They've been great. I played here 10 years and this past year was my fifth year not being a Redskin. But the fans treat me as if I still play for the Redskins.

Q: What drove you?
A: I was never happy with what I did before and I always tried to be the best. I had to constantly work. As a returner I never minded getting hit and delivering a blow. Little guys who return punts sometimes concentrate more on the guys hitting them than on the ball. I focused more on securing the ball.

Q: Were you surprised by your success as a returner?
A: I was very much surprised. I remember going through high school and college and saying I never wanted to be a return guy. They were sick and crazy. It's the most dangerous position ever. But that was the position they told me I had to make it at and I never in a million years thought all the things that happened would happen. I knew I could be successful if I put my mind to it, but to reach all this? I never thought it was easy but I tell people the fact that I was successful so early made me have the desire to want to be good at it. If I had been knocked out on my first play you never would have seen the Brian Mitchell I am today. I would have packed up my bags and gone to Canada to play quarterback.

Q: What did you think when they told you to return kicks?
A: Well, my dream was always to play in the NFL. Whether I was a returner or holding the water bucket I would be happy to be in the NFL. I could have gone to Canada to play quarterback. I had a guaranteed contract in Saskatchewan, but this was my dream. It really wasn't a hard decision. But I did make a promise that if I wasn't drafted on the first day I would go to Canada. But I grew up watching the NFL. I might have seen two Canadian League Games the whole time I was growing up. Playing pro football was the NFL.

Q: Is there one return or one game that stands out to you?
A: My first one. The first kick I returned went for a touchdown. That stands out in the beginning. Then I remember my second year when I began to be a fulltime punt returner. Our opening game was against the Lions and I returned one for a touchdown.

Q: You must have thought, 'This is going to be easy.'
A: And the punt returns were my first ones doing that. I remember one year we played in Denver and I set a record that game -- it was the Rod Smith game -- and the articles the next day in Denver were talking about how the fans were happy they didn't have to kick to me one more time. Every time I touched the ball we'd get to the 40-yard line. That was a memorable game.

Q: Do you ever wonder what you might have done at quarterback?
A: At the time when I came up the league wasn't ready for that. Look at those guys today and if I was coming out of college today I would have that opportunity. Look at Randle El, all the things he did. But I had a chance to play in the NFL and was able to do way more things than I ever thought possible with my life and help out the needy along the way.

Q: What do you remember about the Body Bag game, your one game at QB?
A: I remember a lot of people getting hurt. But unfortunately one of my memories in the NFL had to be at the experience of other guys getting hurt. But I remember telling one of my buddies that I would play QB in the NFL, even if it was for just one play. And my first year on Monday Night Football, to get that chance two players had to go down. I was like, my friends and family will get a chance to see me play quarterback. I wasn't really nervous. When they first said I was going in I was shocked, but then I thought, 'Everyone is getting a chance to see me.'


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