ESPN is reporting that NFL great John Mackey has died. Mackey, a former president of the NFL Players Association, played 10 seasons for the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers, catching 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Enshrined in 1992, Mackey was the second player elected to the Hall of Fame as a tight end.
In a pair of Twitter entries, current NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith paid tribute to Mackey. "John Mackey has inspired me and will continue to inspire our players. He will be missed but never forgotten" reads a post on Smith's Twitter page.
A previous post reads: "John Mackey is still a leader. As President of the NFLPA he led the fight for fairness with brilliance and ferocious drive."
Drafted in 1963 from Syracuse, Mackey, at 6 feet 2 and 224 pounds, helped revolutionize the position of tight end by bringing the added dimension of speed, forcing defenses to account for him not only as a blocker but also as a breakaway threat.
In retirement, Mackey suffered from dementia, but the cost of his care well exceeded his pension of less than $2,500 a month. His plight eventually led the NFL and the players' union to establish the "88 Plan" — named for his uniform number — providing for nursing home care and adult day care for retired players suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease. He was 69.
Read more at ESPN.
In other news: Former UNLV Great Armen Gilliam Dies.