Just yesterday, Syracuse tight end was placed on the watch list for the award that goes to the best tight end in college football each season, The Mackey Award. Now comes word that the man the award is named for, Syracuse football legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Mackey has passed away at the age of 69, ending his long battle with dementia.
Mackey, a tight end, played for the Orange from 1960-62. He was named to Syracuse University's All-Century team in 1999, and his No. 88 was retired in 2007.
Mackey played for the Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1971. He also played for the San Diego Chargers in 1972. He caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns in a 10-season career. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Mackey caught 27 passes for 481 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons for the Orange. As a junior, he snagged 15 passes for a then school-record 321 yards.
Aside from what he did on the field, Mackey also leaves behind a legacy for what he did off-the-field representing his profession:
As the first president of the post-merger players' union, Mackey started fighting for improved salaries and benefits for players. In July, 1970, he organized a players' strike that resulted in an additional $11 million in pensions and benefits, according to The Baltimore Sun.
In The Express, Ernie Davis is befriended by teammate Jack Buckley, thought to represent a combination of John Brown and John Mackey. Shame, No. 88 certainly warranted his own spotlight.