Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hall of Fame TE John Mackey dies

From: Yardbarker:Colts

John Mackey, who was the second tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died on Wednesday night. He was 69.

The five-time Pro Bowler had been dealing with frontotemporal dementia. Mackey was so confused, according to family members, that in 2006 he became enraged when seeing Indianapolis Colts wideout Marvin Harrison wearing the No. 88 jersey that he used to wear.

Mackey revolutionized the position during his nine seasons with the Baltimore Colts and served as the first president of the NFL players' association.

"John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

"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 of the NFL Youth Football Fund. He never stopped fighting the good fight."

In Super Bowl V, Mackey reeled in a pass from Johnny Unitas which initially bounced off the hands of receiver Eddie Hinton and then deflected off Dallas Cowboys' defensive back Mel Renfro. Mackey then scampered into the end zone for a then-Super Bowl record 75-yard touchdown reception.

"Previous to John, tight ends were big strong guys like (Mike) Ditka and (Ron) Kramer who would block and catch short passes over the middle," his coach, Don Shula told the Baltimore Sun.

"Mackey gave us a tight end who weighed 230, ran a 4.6 and could catch the bomb. It was a weapon other teams didn't have."

Mackey, who finished his career with a solo campaign with the San Diego Chargers, missed just one game during his 10-season career. He caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns in his career.

Mackey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992, joining Ditka.

He is also recognized with a college football award, which is handed out to the top tight end in Division 1-FBS. D.J. Williams of Arkansas won the John Mackey Award in December 2010.

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