New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell couldn’t have asked for a better rookie season. Not only did he get to catch passes from Tom Brady, but he caps it off with a win in Super Bowl LI.
Mitchell is a 6-foot-tall, Valdosta, Georgia-native. In the regular season, Mitchell played in 14 games, with 32 receptions for 401 yards and had four receiving touchdowns. Mitchell missed the Patriots’ week 8 and week 17 games, but did play in the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had one, five-yard reception in the game.
While James White was the surprise top receiver for the Patriots, Mitchell also had a good game, with six key catches for 70 yards.
Here’s a look at Mitchell’s life and career.
1. Mitchell Is an Award-Winning Children’s Book Author & Spent $500 of His Own Money to Publish His First Book
Martellus Bennett isn’t the only New England Patriot player who’s a children’s book author. Mitchell is the founder of Read With Malcolm, an initiative to encourage children to read.
In 2015, before he even graduated from the University of Georgia in December 2015, Mitchell wrote and self-published The Magician’s Hat, which earned him an invitation to the Savannah Book Festival. His book was also the best-selling book in the UGA bookstore’s history. In 2016, the Georgia Writers Association awarded him the Children’s Author of the Year award.
“If you pick up and read, you never know what will come from it,” Mitchell told USA Today in July 2015. “When it altered my life in such a positive way, that’s when I realized the effect it could have.”
Mitchell told USA Today that he didn’t intend on writing it himself, but he decided to and had friend Dennis Campay provide the illustrations. He spent $500 of his own money to publish it and had to work around NCAA rules to earn revenue from it.
“I go through compliance every step of the way trying to make sure everything is going smooth,” Mitchell told USA Today. “Our compliance office has done a great job of helping me. The NCAA has done an outstanding job of allowing me to do certain things.”
2. Reese Witherspoon Invited Mitchell to Join Her Book Club After Hearing About His Book & His Book Club
In May 2016, a surprising Twitter conversation started. Fellow Georgia native Reese Witherspoon invited Mitchell to join her book club after learning about his book.
Mitchell responded on Twitter, telling her that he would love to join and asked her what she was reading.
Mitchell does already belong to a book club though. As Yahoo Sports notes, while in college, Mitchell joined a book club after a chance meeting with Kathy Rackley at a Barnes & Noble in Athens, Georgia. Even though most members of the club were women between the ages of 40 and 60, Mitchell still asked if he could join. They accepted him with open arms.
“Everyone was saying, ‘He’s pulling your leg, he’s not going to come,’” Rackley, who didn’t know Mitchell was a star college player at first, told Yahoo News. “I kept saying, ‘I really think he will.’”
For two years, Mitchell was a regular at the meetings, which were strictly about reading. No football talk.
“The husbands tried to come around once they learned I was in,” Mitchell told Yahoo News. “And the ladies would not let them. I’ve probably only met two of the husbands. When I come the husbands will try to come downstairs, but they don’t let them in.”
3. Mitchell’s Mother, Pratina Woods, Fought Breast Cancer for Two Years
Mitchell’s mother is Pratina Woods, who survived a two-year battle with breast cancer, notes the Boston Herald.
In July 2003, she moved Mitchell, his younger sister Zakirra and older brother Marquise back to Valdosta after a divorce from her husband. They moved into her mother’s house and lived there for over two years before Woods filed paperwork to Habitat for Humanity.
His mother’s survival taught Mitchell to persevere. When he wanted to quit playing football in sixth grade because he wasn’t getting time on the field, Woods told him to stick to it. His mother convinced him to stick to football in high school, when he was switched from cornerback to wide receiver.
“The type of people we are, we always want to be of help to other people,” Woods told the Herald. “I told Malcolm a long time ago, ‘The things that we go through in life, they’re never for us. They’re always to help someone else. No matter what you face in life, you have to make sure what you’re facing is to help the next person coming along. It’s not about you. It’s about the next person.’”
4. Mitchell’s Rookie Contract is 4 Years, $2.9 Million
Since Mitchell’s college career stretched to five seasons because of a torn ACL in 2013, Mitchell wasn’t a high draft pick. The Patriots picked him in the fourth round, with the 112th overall pick. The injury bug ended up biting Mitchell during the regular season, since he missed the Miami Dolphins season finale with a knee injury.
According to Spotrac, Mitchell’s rookie contract is for four years, $2.917,992. That includes a $577,992 signing bonus. His rookie season base salary was $450,000. He will be a free agent in 2020, when he turns 26.
5. Mitchell Got His First NFL Touchdown Pass During the Patriots’ Win in San Francisco
Mitchell’s rookie season didn’t really heat up until the middle of the year. Easily his best game was the Week 11 match-up at the San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots won, 30-17, with Mitchell catching four receptions for 98 yards. One of those receptions was 56-yard touchdown pass.
Mitchell also had another great game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13, when he caught eight passes for 82 yards. However, his only multi-touchdown game was Week 12 at the New York Jets, when he caught two touchdown passes from Brady.