Colts Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey dead at 69
Former Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey died Wednesday at the age of 69. A Hall of Famer who helped revolutionize his position, Mackey was an important NFL figure off the field as well as on it. After his retirement, Mackey fought for better health care for former players.
Baltimore, MD, United States
July 7, 2011 09:21 pm EDT
Sports, American Football, National Football League
Former Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey died Wednesday at the age of 69.
A Hall of Famer who helped revolutionize his position, Mackey was an important NFL figure off the field as well as on it. After his retirement, Mackey fought for better health care for former players.
Unfortunately Mackey ultimately had to fight dementia which ultimately forced him into an assisted-living facility.
"I am deeply sorry to learn of the passing of John Mackey," Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay said. “His statistical numbers have been eclipsed as the game has evolved, but those in football recognize to this day how John impacted the game. He authored big moments with his on-field ability, such as his memorable 75-yard scoring reception in Super Bowl V.
"John’s passion for the game extended beyond his playing years, and he is one of the most notable figures in league history. We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to John’s wife, Sylvia, and the entire Mackey family."
Mackey was drafted in 1963 out of Syracuse by the Colts in the second round. He played for the Colts from 1963-1971 and played for the San Diego Chargers in 1972. He finished his 10-year career with 331 catches for 5,236 yards and 38 TD.
He was also lauded for his work off the field and the NFL labor agreement ratified in 2006 included the “88 Plan,” named for Mackey’s number. The plan provides up to $88,000 a year for nursing care or day care for former players with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or $50,000 for home care.
"John Mackey is still our leader. As the president of the NFLPA, he led the fight for fairness with a brilliance and with ferocious drive," current NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. "His passion continues to define our organization and inspire our players. His unwavering loyalty to our mission and his exemplary courage will never be forgotten."
Mackey was a new blend of size and speed that came along just as the passing game was starting to take hold of the game. A trmendous reciever, Mackey was a strong blocker as well and became a model for tight ends of the future.
"John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He was a Hall of Fame player who redefined the tight end position. He was a courageous advocate for his fellow NFL players as head of the NFL Players Association. He worked closely with our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the first president f the NFL Youth Football Fund. He never stopped fighting the good fight."
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