Background and college
Mitchell was born January 20, 1971 in Chicago, Illinois graduated from Simeon Career Academy (then known as Simeon Vocational High School) in 1989. He went to Nebraska and declared himself eligible for the NFL after his sophomore year. A third-team all-American, Mitchell had a team-leading 31 catches for 534 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Career as a Jet
The Jets selected Mitchell with the 15th pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. He was the first Jets' first-round selection at tight end since Jerome Barkum in 1972. In his first regular season game, he picked up a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for the next six weeks. Mitchell had talent, but he also had a big mouth, and had no problems letting everybody know. "I'm a very verbal and open person," Mitchell said. "Sometimes people get offended at what I say, but I speak from my heart and from the truth. But that's me. That's the way I grew up. That's what I believe in and it won't stop. If anyone gets offended by that, so be it." During his rookie season, Mitchell spoke his mind following a game in which Browning Nagle didn't throw him the ball. Mitchell complained, comparing himself to 49ers receiver Jerry Rice. Nagle slammed Mitchell for putting himself ahead of the team.
Mitchell's relationship with his teammates, especially Boomer Esiason, was always problematic, though, because of his approach to the game. He would criticize Esiason if a pass wasn't thrown his way often enough. Some teammates thought he measured success by his own statistics. By the end of the 1994 season, his unhappiness with the Jets was apparent. He wondered aloud whether the Jets played under some dark cloud. He thought that their losing history infected the players.1995, the new Jets head coach, Rich Kotite talked of using a two-tight-end alignment with top draft pick of the 1995 NFL Draft, Kyle Brady, teaming with Mitchell. That alignment, when it was employed, didn't do much. Like most of Kotite's schemes, really. Mitchell hurt his back early in the season when he reached for a low pass while having a catch with a teammate. He sat out the next four games. He wound up with 45 catches for 497 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Toward the end of the season, he was not talking to the news media, claiming, as he had several times before, that he had been misquoted. In the last week of the season, he took his nameplate off his locker, which angered the Jets. An official quickly put it back. He need not have bothered.
The Jets' disenchantment with Mitchell, ended in April 1996 when they simply dropped him, unable to get even a low-round draft choice for the former No. 1 draft pick. "We tried to trade Johnny Mitchell prior to, during and even after the draft, but found no takers even for minimal consideration," the Jets' president, Steve Gutman, said in an unusually candid statement.
After the Jets
After leaving the Jets, Mitchell went to Jimmy Johnson's first summer camp with the Miami Dolphinsand decided he had had enough of the torrid Miami heat within a week. Later that season he signed with Dallas and got into four games, catching one pass, then announced his retirement, at the age of 25. Various tales about strange goings on in Brazil occasionally surfaced (he was engaged to a former Miss Universe). Mitchell popped up for a brief period in 1999, with the Jets again, but walked out of training camp. In 2001, Mitchell decided to make a comeback. he made the New Orleans Saints roster for the final two games, but didn't see acrtion. In 2003 Mitchell then signed for the Jacksonville Jaguars but was cut before the season started.
Stats as a Jet
After the NFL
Mitchell is currently living in Southport, England, with his wife and kids, and appeared on Sky Sports' NFL coverage in September 2009.