Hall of Famer John Mackey passes away

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.

15 responses to “Hall of Famer John Mackey passes away

  1. I’m old enough to remember Mackey playing in his prime. No one ever played the position any better than John Mackey. If you ever want to see someone play with hustle and desire, take a look at Mackey’s highlight films and watch just how many yards he gets after the catch, and how many tackles he breaks!! He was a beast with the ball in his hands!!

    It’s sad to note how he passed relatively young (69 Years Old) in a nursing home suffering from severe dementia. I wonder how much of the dementia was related to the hits he took on the field?

    Rest In Peace #88.

  2. I remember a touchdown he had against the Rams where he literally blew through the defenders. Another where he carried a couple of defenders on his back the last ten yards or so. I’ve haven’t seen another tight end like him in all the years since. He truly revolutionized the position.


  3. Remember he played for the BALTIMORE COLTS.
    The old Baltimore Colts did not want to be associated with the team in Indy. Teams move and that is the way it is in this league, but Indy needs to return the historic records that the men from the Baltimore Colts set so they can be associated with the city of Baltimore not a city they never played for. You go around Baltimore and the Old greats from the Baltimore Colts still live there.

  4. Finally we are beginning to see some research into repetitive head injury also known as traumatic brain injuries that down the road result in dementia and what appears like Alzheimer’s. He was a great player that died too young.

  5. Who’s the jerk giving thumbs down to people wishing for Mr. Mackey to rest in peace? Get some psychiatric help a-hole.

  6. Yes, after all these years I am still crushed by the 69′ Super Bowl, that’s how big a Baltimore Colts fan I am and always will be. Yes I remember Mackey and was blessed enough to see him play in his prime. And just like when Unitas passed away, yes my life just got a little smaller. Take care Mackey and thank you so much, I’ll see you later!

  7. My grandfather used to tell me stories of how he tore it up for the Baltimore Colts. Sounded beastly.
    His legacy lives on in college with the Mackey Award.
    Sad news, indeed.

    R.I.P., and condolences to his loved ones.

  8. georgeanderson2 – good post. (I remember back in the 50s when the players had to have off-season jobs to make ends meet.) By the time of the ‘move’ I was long gone, but I read somewhere that the Irsay family had promised to leave the name and the colors in Baltimore, a promise which they obviously did not keep. And the indy fans never got the chance to name their team and choose their colors.
    To this day if the indy football team comes to Baltimore the scoreboard says “Indy”. They will NOT call them their name. And that is as it should be.
    The BALTIMORE Colts won one Super Bowl. The indianapolis colts won one Super Bowl.

    Johnny Unitas’ records are his forever – never to be broken.

    I remember back in 1958 when Pope John XXIII was elected Baltimore area Catholics (like me) used to refer to him affectionately as ‘Johnny Unite-Us”

    Dimaggio’s 56 consecutive games hitting streak and Unitas’ 47 straight games with at least one TD pass – some records will NOT be broken.

  9. great player and I remember him when I was a little kid playing against the Jets in what I thought was one of the best super bowls ever. God bless John Mackey.

  10. Being born in Baltimore in 1962, and being named after Alan Ameche, my parents doomed me to take the history of the sport seriously. If I am allowed here is a nice Baltimore Sun article discussing his career, http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/bal-john-mackey-dies,0,5908899.story

    I did not know, or had forgotten, how instrumental he was in helping form a players association.

    A great leader in his sport, on and off the field. May he rest in peace.

  11. John Mackey was a stallion of a football player, great and underrated as well. He was also a stand-up man off the field after his playing days were over.

    One of my favorite stories about Mackey comes from a book I read, I believe by Bill Curry. Apparently, Mackey was scared to death of bugs and such. There was a game the Colts played at old Kezar Stadium in San Francisco in a rainstorm. Apparently, the field was filled with night-crawlers that always came to the surface when it rained. Well, Mackey knew this too, and ended up having one of his greatest games ever. He absolutely would not allow himself to be tackled, and the 49ers either had to stand him up or push him out of bounds. He had one of his greatest games ever because of those worms.

    Mackey was as good a TE that has ever played the game. He didn’t get the attention that Mike Ditka got, but he was (IMO) a better player. I still enjoy watching highlights of him, especially his 75 yard TD catch against Dallas in SB V.

    Rest in Peace, John. You are a Baltimore Colt forever.

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