Also Published at: Bad News Bloggers
"The Legend of..." is a series of articles compiling athletes who may appear forgettable but have forever etched themselves into the mind of at least one fan.
The first edition is dedicated to Freddie Mitchell
The venerable Freddie Mitchell was the 25th pick in the first round of the 2001 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles drafted him hoping to acquire the stud receiver talent to push Donovan McNabb to the top echelon.
Mitchell’s Philadelphia connections go deeper than becoming the mouth of Philadelphia. Moreover, Mitchell played baseball with future Phillies All-Star Chase Utley at UCLA and even introduced Utley to his future wife, Jennifer.
Eventually, Mitchell never quite reached the promise that the Eagles had for him. He was selected before Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson and Steve Smith but only caught 15 balls in 2002 and then 35 in 2003. In 2004, Mitchell’s final year with the Eagles, he caught 22 balls and the Eagles ended up releasing him in 2005, after the NFL draft.
But Freddie did have achievements:
While not having the talents of a Clinton Portis, he certainly has the ego taking on numerous names such as "First Down Freddie", "Fourth Down Freddie", "The People’s Champ" (to which he would imitate a championship belt around his waist), and of course "FredEx" (because he always delivers). At one point, Freddie even showed up to a press conference wearing oven mitts and declared: “I'd like to thank God for giving me these hands."
4th and 26
In what is one of the most famous plays in Philadelphia Eagles history. The Green Bay Packers blew a 14 point lead. With only 1:12 left in the game after a 3rd down penalty and an 11 yard sack of Donovan McNabb, the Eagles faced 4th and 26. McNabb through a perfect strike to Mitchell at the first down line resulting in a fresh set of downs and a game tying field goal. The game went to overtime and after a Brian Dawkins interception, the Eagles went on to win.
The Score wasn’t so important as the Eagles were prepared to put another drubbing on the Dallas Cowboys during their Super Bowl season, but the famous McNabb scramble is one emblazoned in Eagles’ fans’ minds. McNabb’s almost 15 second scramble result in a 60 yard toss to Mitchell that stunned everyone…including John Madden. Boom!
Prior to the Super Bowl, Eagles fans were high on FredEx but in the weeks leading up to the game everyone soured. During an interview with Dan Patrick, Mitchell suggested he didn’t know the names of any of the New England Patriots' DBs, only numbers and then followed that up by getting all the numbers wrong. Except Rodney Harrison, to which he was quoted as saying “[He’s] got something for him.” Harrison took offense, as did Bill Belichick. And the Patriots would film their way to victory 24-21.
After the game, Mitchell lambasted everyone, from the Pats and Eagles, namely saying Owens took away his catches and he and McNabb just didn’t fit. After being released a few months later, Mitchell worked out for the Kansas City Chiefs but was released. He’s also tried out for the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Toronto Argonauts and according to Deadspin, was reportedly serving as a substitute teacher.
But regardless of the mouth or the skills, Freddie was a legend (in his own mind) for the few great moments he created in Eagles history.