As beloved as former Baltimore Colts tight end was by his hometown fans, John Mackey was respected all around the NFL and the country as well. His death Wednesday at the age of 69 due to complications from Alzheimer's Disease resonated throughout the nation, and even the New York Times posted a story detailing not only his death, but his life as well.
In addition to revolutionizing the tight end position in the league, Mackey was the first president of what would become the NFL Players Association. He helped organize the players as a group, even leading them on strike to hold out for what amounted to an additional $11 million dollars in player benefits.
Ironically, it was his dementia that prompted his strong and devoted wife, Sylvia, to contact then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue about his plight, which ultimately led to the formation of the "88 Plan," which provided additional health insurance coverage for those players whose dementia was linked to the hits to the head they sustained during their playing careers.
While his legacy will be known as more than just his playing career, the stats that stand out the most that separated him from other tight ends of his era, were his over 20 yards per reception as a rookie and three years later had six touchdown catches of over 50 yards in 1966. Check out this great video tribute on BaltimoreRavens.com.
Rest In Peace, John Mackey.