By Teresa Varley
Steelers assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell will be inducted into the of State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2009 on May 30.
"It means a tremendous amount because of some of the people who were inducted into it before me," said Mitchell. "To have the state that you grew up in feel that much about you as an individual and a person I think it says a lot. I had a lot of people I played with at Alabama and that I know in Alabama inducted and to go in there knowing the people I know in there, it's really big in my life."
Mitchell, who hails from Mobile, Alabama, played for the University of Alabama from 1971-72 under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
"My father taught me how to be a man, coach Bryant taught me how to compete," said Mitchell. "He taught me when things are tough and not going your way that you have two options. You have the option to stand there and make it better or you have the option to quit. Once you quit once, it's a lot easier the second time. I have never forgotten that. The things I try to do here as a coach are the things I was taught by Coach Bryant."
Mitchell played defensive end at Alabama and had 125 career tackles, eight sacks and five forced fumbles while starting 24 games. In his two seasons Alabama was 21-3 and won the SEC Championship twice.
He isn't the first one with Steelers ties inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Former wide receiver and Steelers investor John Stallworth was also inducted.
"I know John real well and that means a lot to join him," said Mitchell. "When you are out of the state, and I have been gone from Alabama since 1983, that means a lot to me that people still think about me. If I were there it would be a lot easier. Being here the last 15 years and being in Cleveland three years, it makes it that much better for me."
Mitchell is looking forward to the induction and reliving some of the memories, which include him being the first African-American to win All-American honors in football.
"A year ago I got inducted into the Mobile Hall of Fame where I grew up," said Mitchell. "To get inducted by the state is huge. I will never forget it. I will be emotional that night."
Tickets for the induction are now on sale. Tickets are $125 for an adult, which includes the reception and banquet. Children under the age of 18 tickets are $50. Tickets may be purchased by sending a check to ASHOF, P.O. Box 10163, Birmingham, AL 35202. You may request the tickets be mailed or you can pick them up at the Will Call Table outside the Ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel on Saturday night May 30th.