New England Patriots: Unsung Heroes – Malcolm Mitchell


Malcolm Mitchell may have only played one season with the New England Patriots, but his contributions to the team earned them a Super Bowl championship.

The announcement of wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell retiring at the age of 25 may have stunned some fans. After all, his stint in the NFL only lasted a season. Mitchell may not have been the household name on everyone’s back, but he surely made a lasting impact during the most important game of the season.

When the confetti fell after Super Bowl 51, there were a lot of shocked fans. After being down 25 points late in the third quarter, Tom Brady orchestrated one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NFL. It goes without saying that the game was won as a team effort. Without everyone playing as a unit, the Atlanta Falcons were on the verge of being crowned champions. However, the Patriots turned the game around with a handful of unsung heroes.

Malcolm Mitchell, the wide receiver.

Bill Belichick saw Mitchell, a young, talented receiver, come out of the University of Georgia in the 2016 NFL Draft. A fourth-round pick-up was the added spark New England needed on offense. As a rookie, Mitchell grabbed the attention of Brady and offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. He was named as a starting wide receiver with Julian Edelman.


When Mitchell debuted in the NFL, he was catching passes from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo while starting quarterback Tom Brady was serving a four-game suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season. Mitchell, however, seemed to be unphased by whoever was in the quarterback position. He was the recipient of two passes from Garoppolo in the opener. A few weeks later, the receiver was able to add a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to his stat sheet.

Over the course of his rookie season, Malcolm Mitchell contributed to the Patriots in a major way. His ability to remain open while opponents targeted Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Rob Gronkowski showed high value for the team. Mitchell gained 401 yards with 32 receptions in that first year. He notched four touchdowns over 14 games, adding a highlighted six starts on the season. This continued success was evident in Super Bowl 51.


Malcolm Mitchell, the Super Bowl champion.

During the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons, it seemed as if the Patriots would not be able to overcome their looming deficit. Mitchell did not offer much to the team in the first three quarters of play. He was only targeted twice and caught only one of those passes. He trotted for a disappointing seven yards as the Falcons were up 28-3. However, as they say, nothing is over until the clock hits 0:00.

The fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was a highlighting moment in Mitchell’s short career. Brady believed wholeheartedly in the rookie. Targeting him five times resulted in five perfect catches. Four of the five catches were crucial first down plays that surmounted the Patriots as Super Bowl champions. Without those key contributions by Malcolm Mitchell, the game may have had a different outcome.

A knee injury at the start of Mitchell’s second season ended it all before he could blossom again. After several tests, the results were not in his favor to play football the same way again. Ten surgeries later, the New England Patriots decided it was in their best interest to release the receiver.

Malcolm Mitchell, the contributor.

While the Patriots only had a snippet of time with Mitchell, he was very valuable to them as a player. To only play a single season with an organization and win a Super Bowl championship is something not many get to accomplish. Malcolm Mitchell may not have had the longevity of other wide receivers in the NFL, but he retired a champ.


As he said his final goodbyes to football as a player, Mitchell began to focus on his other goals. Malcolm Mitchell became an author, penning a children’s book titled The Magician’s Hat. He continues to inspire others off the field as an encourager for children’s literacy. Although his career was cut short, his contributions to the Super Bowl-winning team will forever remain a highlight in his life.


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