Baltimore Colt legend John Mackey passes away

OWINGS MILLS -- The death of Baltimore Colts legendary tight end John Mackey has triggered deep sadness around the NFL. Especially in Baltimore where Mackey established himself as a true all-around tight end equally capable of bulldozing linebackers or running past cornerbacks.

Mackey died Wednesday night in Baltimore after suffering from dementia for the past several years.

"I am mourning the loss of John Mackey, and my deepest condolences go out to his wife Sylvia and the Mackey family," Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "John revolutionized the tight end position during his Hall of Fame career, and he laid the foundation on and off the field for modern NFL players."

Mackey was the first president of the NFL Players Association following the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He organized a brief strike in 1972 that gained $11 million in benefits and pensions for the players, briefly granting them free agency before it was bargained away five years later.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti grew up in Maryland as a fan of the Colts, watching Mackey catch passes from Johnny Unitas.

"We are tremendously saddened to hear abotu the passing of John Mackey, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Sylvia, and the entire Mackey family," Bisciotti said. "I was fortunate to get to know John and Sylvia personally, and I was struck by her love and loyalty throughout the difficult times of his illness. John set the standard by which tight ends are measured, and he will be sorely missed not only by his family, but also by the entire Baltimore community."

Ravens Insider Top Stories