Scott Mitchell

Scott Mitchell found his benching by coach Brian Billick in Baltimore to be "devastating." (Sun photo by Doug Kapustin / September 3, 1999)

He wore No. 19 and was the coach's hand-picked choice in 1999 to lead the Ravens upward.

Pffft. Scott Mitchell started two games, bombed out and was benched, never to play for the Ravens again.

Eight years later and out of football, Mitchell still feels the sting.

"Being benched [by coach Brian Billick] was devastating," he said. "I had always thought of myself as part of the solution, not the problem.

"But that moment provided a gut check, too. I rededicated myself and played another two years [in Cincinnati]."

Now 39, Mitchell owns a land development firm in Orlando, Fla., where he lives so close to Disney World that he can watch the nightly fireworks at the Magic Kingdom from his back yard.

Football wasn't quite the fairy-tale life he had imagined, but after an 11-year pro career, Mitchell, 6 feet 6, still found it hard to quit.

"You almost wish you were injured so you'd know definitively that you can't play anymore," he said. "My last year [2001], I contacted every NFL team and offered to fly in for a tryout. Nothing.

"Finally, one morning I got up and said, 'It's over.' Then I sat on the grass and had a good 20-minute cry."

Then Mitchell thought: I can do anything except play football.

"I'll probably miss playing for the rest of my life," he said. "But I've moved on."

Married and the father of two, he coaches his 4-year-old's flag football team. The job is a hoot, Mitchell said.

"It's really a bunch of kids all running in the wrong direction," he said. "I'm the quarterback and I hand the ball off to one of them and then ... all hell breaks loose. It's like herding cats."

All hell could have broken loose with the Ravens when Mitchell asked to wear No. 19 - the same as that worn by Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer John Unitas.

"I'd worn 19 all my life," Mitchell said. "So I met with John and said, 'I'm getting some grief about wearing your number. Please understand that in no way would I ever dishonor it.' "

Mitchell recalled Unitas' gruff response:

"It's the dumbest thing in the world that people are concerned about this. I don't give a damn if you wear my number."
Scott Mitchell:

With the Ravens: 1999.

Other teams: Miami Dolphins (1991 through 1993); Detroit Lions (1994 through 1998); Cincinnati Bengals (2000 and 2001).

Current job: Self-employed in real estate and land development in Florida.

Career statistics: 1,301 completions in 2.346 attempts for 15,692 yards and 95 touchdowns. Rushed 172 times for 485 yards and 11 TDs.

Fun fact: A one-time Eagle Scout, Mitchell filmed a commercial for Scouting in 1996 that can be seen on YouTube.com.

College: University of Utah, where the left-handed quarterback majored in economics and played for coach Jim Fassel.

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com