*Each week leading up to a Ravens home game, a different Baltimore Football Alumni member checks-in with BaltimoreRavens.com. Be sure to continue to check back throughout the 2010 season to see what your favorite BFA members have been up to. *View Past "Where Are They Now?" Features »
Name: Lydell Mitchell
Team: Baltimore Colts
Position: Running Back
Years Played in Baltimore: 1972 - 1977
After your playing career in Baltimore was complete, what did you do?
I did a lot of speaking engagements – going around doing a lot of motivational speaking and things of that nature. Just primarily for businesses.
What have you been doing more recently?
Well, I've been in business for 20 years with Franco Harris, and the company's called Super Bakery - and we do mostly school business. We sell nutritional donuts to school systems around the country, among other products, and we do military business among other things of that sort.
It's about traveling around – we have regional sales people and I just go in and assist them in what they do. So we've been doing this for 20 years – started in 1990, and it's been fun.
It does not sound like you can sit still too long.
It seems to be that way! You do it while you have the energy to do it because eventually it just gets old – and it's kind of getting old now. But as long as you're doing something positive and you're enjoying it then I'd say continue to do it – and right now I still like what we do. We're successful at it, it works, and you wake up in the morning and still enjoy – that's the fun part about it.
How did you and Franco get together to go into business?
Well, Franco and I met when we were seniors in high school and we ended up going to Penn State – we were recruited their at the same time and we ended up both going to Penn State and the rest is history. We've been together ever since our freshman year in 1968 at Penn State.
What do you miss most about playing?
I don't know that I miss anything about playing. The best way I can put it is that you can have a career and you can always do better – but I had a pretty darn good career and I don't have any regrets. You know, I wish I could have had another year or two there so I could have some consideration to get into the NFL Hall of Fame, but, as far as having regrets I have none and I don't really miss it.
I look back at the game and I still think of myself as modern – I'm not ancient, I understand the game quite well, and it hasn't changed that much in my mind over the years.
I don't miss it. I enjoyed my time doing it. It's a young man's game – sooner or later guys like me have to get out of the way and let the young guys do it. I don't like to live in the past – I like to keep moving on towards the future and embrace what I did in the past. It was a lot of fun and it's nice when people come up to you and remember what you did.
Growing up, did you always dream of playing in the NFL?
I did, I really did! Starting about 8th grade on I thought about it. My favorite player, and I still think he is the greatest ever, is Jim Brown. That's who I kind of idolized growing up and watching play. Of course, he probably retired too early – much, much, much sooner than he should have.
It's a combination – you have to have talent (you can dream big dreams but you still have to have talent) and on top of that you have to go out and work at it (work on your trade, work hard, get better, improve everyday). And obviously I was a pretty good player in high school in all sports, then went onto college and played football and was able to get a scholarship and once again kept getting better and better. Then it becomes a question of can I stay healthy and not get hurt, not get dinged, and have a chance so it happens – and I graduated from Penn State too, which is important to me.
Today, most of these guys don't get a chance to experience that – back in those days everyone graduated. Not that you would do anything with your degree sometimes, but just the fact is that we did get an education and it's nice we were part of that thing called a scholar-athlete as opposed to just matriculating at school.
Do you have any advice for kids today who want to be professional football players?
Well, you always have to have plans and set goals for yourself, but, don't let that be the thing that overwhelms you. If you're good enough to make it, I always tell people "The cream rises to the top."
You have to be lucky to that you don't get nicked or banged up and don't have a chance to make it, but more importantly, don't get sidetracked by playing in the NFL and forget about studying. To me, that's the most important thing because your career in football can end so abruptly and if you don't have that education to fall back on today it's tough. You've got to be able to have that other plan. If playing in the NFL is your plan A, then make sure you have a plan B – you have to have options to move on with your life. Don't put all your eggs in one basket and say if you didn't make it "Oh, my life is dead. Oh, I can't function."
Do you have anything you would like to say to the fans who are reading this?
I'll tell you this has always been one of the greatest towns because the fans here really embrace you. It's always been a fantastic town to play in. The fans are wonderful, they are very compassionate, they really love their players, and when I played for the Colts, they certainly were behind us.
It's a wonderful experience for a lot of people so thank you for all of the years when you all supported us – the Baltimore Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. It was just a wonderful ride, a great experience, and I hope the tradition continues to grow!
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