A second-round pick out of Syracuse in 1963, Mackey caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns during his 10-year career, which concluded with one season with the San Diego Chargers. Mackey played in five Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro, and is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1960s.
Mackey was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992, and the award presented to the top tight end in college football bears Mackey’s name. The 2011 Mackey Award Watch List was released on Wednesday.
Mackey suffered from dementia and had been living in a home. Along with other players’ wives and families of players living with dementia, Mackey’s family pressed the NFL and NFLPA to alleviate their financial burden. The league and union responded with the creation of the “88 Plan”, named after Mackey’s jersey number, which provides $88,000 for institutional care or $50,000 for home care to players suffering from dementia-related illnesses.
Mackey’s family informed the NFL Players Association on Thursday, with key executives responding to the Hall of Famer’s passing on Twitter.
“Woke up this morning to learn that we lost John Mackey. One of those things that leaves you at a loss. RIP”, NFLPA Assistant Director of External Affairs George Atallah wrote.
“John Mackey is still a leader. As President of the NFLPA he led the fight for fairness with brilliance and ferocious drive,” wrote NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. “John Mackey has inspired me and will continue to inspire our players and define our institution. He will be missed but never forgotten.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Mackey family.