FOXBORO, Mass. – If wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell steps foot on the field for the New England Patriot’s against the Falcons, there is no doubt he will have a special group of fans cheering him on.
This regular season, Mitchell has recorded just over 400 yards and four touchdowns in his first season with the Patriots.
However, that is not why he has a group of women older than his mother wearing his jersey.
When Malcolm Mitchell started classes at the University of Georgia, he knew he was falling behind.
Mitchell knew he was reading at about a junior high level, which was well below his classmates, and he simply couldn’t keep up.
“When he started to identify (the problem), he called me about it,” Pratina Woods, Mitchell’s mother, told the Boston Herald. “He said, ‘Mom, there’s something missing.”
She encouraged him to get a tutor and find other people who may be able to help.
Eventually, Mitchell wandered into a Barnes & Noble store in Georgia so he could find different books to read.
As fate would have it, he made his way into the same aisle as Kathy Rackley, who was trying to find her book club’s latest pick.
Mitchell asked for a recommendation and they began to chat.
“So we started talking books, and I showed him what I had in my hand,” Rackley said, who happened to have picked up Jojo Moyes’ love story “Me Before You.” “I said I had just joined a book club. He got all excited, took a step back and said, ‘I want to join a book club. Do you think I could join yours?’ I started laughing and said, ‘I don’t think you want to join mine. We’re all 40-, 50- and 60-year-old women.’ He very earnestly said, ‘I don’t care. I just want to read.”
Mitchell was welcomed with open arms into the club, many of whose members had no idea about his abilities on the football field.
Mitchell joined in discussions at the women’s homes, and the women would send him group texts to talk about his games.
He decided to share his love of reading with others. He wrote and published his own children’s book, “The Magician’s Hat.”
After college, he was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round.
Although he doesn’t get to visit the book club nearly as often, the ladies say they will absolutely be watching Sunday’s game to cheer on their youngest book club member.
Mitchell is dealing with a knee injury, so it is unclear whether or not he will take the field for the Patriots.