Mitchell to be honored by University of Alabama

John Mitchell broke barriers while he was at the University of Alabama, and this weekend the University will honor Mitchell, the Steelers Assistant Head Coach, during the 2022 Golden Flake A-Day Game, the school's annual spring football game.

The game will be held on April 16 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and Mitchell, along with Wilbur Jackson, will be honored for their roles in opening doors and providing opportunities for countless Crimson Tide athletes after them. A plaque of the two will be unveiled on the wall outside the stadium, and a painting of them was commissioned.

Mitchell was the first Black football player to play for Alabama. Mitchell became the first Black captain, All-American and All-SEC selection at Alabama, not just breaking the barriers, but shattering them.

He continued to break down doors, becoming the first Black coach in Alabama history, when he was hired as the team's defensive ends coach right out of college to work on Paul 'Bear' Bryant's staff in 1973.

"I tell people this, being first doesn't mean anything unless you do something with it," said Mitchell for a story that ran previously on "I am happy that people recognize I tried to do what was right and made the path a little easier for them. That is the thing I am happiest about. A lot of times you get to be first, if you don't take advantage of it, not only are you disappointing yourself, but you are disappointing people who want to come after you. I have had a lot of guys say you made it easier to come after you.

"That is the thing that I am proudest of. Not that I was the first African American to play, be a captain or coach. Those things are fleeting. But when people say you made it easier for me, that is where my joy comes from."