Alabama Football: What if the Tide retired football jersey numbers?

(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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Alabama football
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Wilbur Jackson (80) and John Mitchell (97)

If any jersey numbers were to be retired, it would be these two. Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell were the first two African-American football players for the Crimson Tide in its history. They laid the groundwork for future generations to come to the Capstone and play for Alabama football.

Wilbur Jackson is an Ozark native who played for Bear Bryant. He was the first African-American scholarship athlete for Alabama football, and he was a heck of a player. Jackson averaged 7.9 yards a carry for the Crimson Tide and was a consensus All-American. It’s sad to say, but it was very important for the first African-American players for the Crimson Tide to be successful. They carried the weight of not just their own legacy but the legacies that followed. After playing for the Tide, Jackson had a successful NFL career that made him a Super Bowl Champion with Washington.

John Mitchell transferred to play for the Crimson Tide, and he had a massive impact during his playing days. He was a co-captain for the team and accounted for eight sacks and five forced fumbles with Alabama football.

After his playing days, Mitchell became an assistant coach for Bear Bryant. He later hopped around the college and professional ranks before finding his home with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has won two Super Bowls with the Steelers as an assistant coach.

These players deserve recognition for what they’ve done on and off the field.