John Mackey, the second tight end ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has passed away at the age of 69. Mackey’s family informed the NFLPA of the news.
The No. 2 pick of the 1963 Draft, Mackey quickly established himself as a new kind of tight end. He averaged more than 20 yards-per-catch playing with Johnny Unitas as a rookie while racking up 726 yards and seven scores, just the sort of season fans came to expect throughout Mackey’s terrific 10-year career.
The Hall of Fame has a great stat which captures Mackey’s explosiveness. In 1966, six of Mackey nine touchdowns were longer than 50 yards: 51, 57, 64, 79, 83 and 89 yards. There simply was no other player like him.
Mackey played in five Pro Bowls and famously caught a deflected 75-yard touchdown in Super Bowl V from Unitas. He also was once the President of the NFLPA.
“John Mackey has inspired me and will continue to inspire our players. He will be missed but never forgotten . . . As President of the NFLPA he led the fight for fairness with brilliance and ferocious drive.” DeMaurice Smith wrote Thursday morning.
Mackey finished his life in an assisted living facility due to dementia. He was the inspiration behind the “88 plan” created by the league and the NFLPA. It provides $88,000-a-year for nursing home care and up to $50,000 annually for adult day care for players in need.
We send our thoughts and condolences to his family.