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Dolphins' Mitchell retires, says heart not into playing

Published Sep. 16, 2005

Johnny Mitchell was ecstatic when he joined the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago.

Now, the tight end who was expected to play a big role in the Dolphins' offense says he no longer wants to play football and retired Monday at age 25.

"Johnny Mitchell said he lost his desire to play and didn't have it in his heart to play football anymore," said coach Jimmy Johnson.

He has been bothered since last season by a bad back and last week was suffering from chronic back pain. However, a club spokesman said that was not the reason for the decision.

Mitchell was not available for comment.

He becomes the third tight end to leave the Dolphins since Johnson became coach.

Johnson cut former All-Pro Eric Green before training camp started. Green's backup, Ronnie Williams, was released to make room for Mitchell.

"Everything was left on good terms," Johnson said. "If somebody doesn't have his heart into playing football, I don't want them around. He's just not comfortable with football anymore."

Mitchell signed with the Dolphins on July 17 after playing his first four seasons with the Jets. At a news conference to announce his signing, Mitchell described playing in Miami as the "perfect situation."

Mitchell signed a three-year contract worth $1.4-million, including a $500,000 signing bonus. "He signed an affidavit to return his signing bonus," Johnson said.

Johnson added the team is not actively pursuing a tight end.

"If we didn't have Kerry Cash it would be a different story," Johnson said. "I'm pleasantly surprised with how Kerry has taken to the offense."

Mitchell, a first-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 1992, caught 158 passes and scored 16 touchdowns in four seasons with the Jets.