This morning, we learned of the passing of John Mackey, former NFLPA president.Â Associated Press reports the Hall of Fame tight end died at the age of 69.Â He had struggled dementia following his 10-year career.
Drafted out of Syracuse, Mackey played for the Baltimore Colts from 1963-71 and San Diego Chargers in 1972.Â Mackey is often regarded as the first offensive threat tight end.Â His breakaway speed, size, and strength earned him five Pro Bowls.
Of his nine touchdown receptions in 1966, six were 50 yards or longer (51, 57, 64, 79, 83, and 89).Â Mackeyâ€™s most defining moment is still considered among the best Super Bowl plays ever; he caught a deflected pass from Johnny Unitas in Super Bowl V to score a 75-yard touchdown â€“ a record at the time.
In 1992, Mackey became the second tight end inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, four years after Mike Dikta.Â Six tight ends have since joined them, including former Broncos standout Shannon Sharpe, who will be enshrined next month.
Mackeyâ€™s dementia forced him into an assisted-living facility in 2007. Â His care costs were much higher than his NFL pension of $2,500 a month. Â The story pushed the NFL and playersâ€™ union to create the â€œ88 Plan.â€Â Named for Mackeyâ€™s number, the â€œ88 Planâ€ provides $88,000 annually for nursing home care and up to $50,000 a year for adult day care.
Mackeyâ€™s wife has said she will donate her husbandâ€™s brain for research.Â Boston University School of Medicine is conducting an ongoing study of brain damage in athletes.
In 2000, the John Mackey Award was established to honor the nationâ€™s most oustanding collegiate tight end.Â Â Former University of Colorado and Denver Broncos tight end Daniel Graham won the award in 2001.
Veteran quarterback retires
Tennessee Titans quarterback Kerry Collins is calling it quits.
The 16-year veteran announced his retirement today.Â In statement released by his agent and posted on NFL.com, Collins said:
“The past several months have brought on much introspection, and I have decided that while my desire to compete on Sundays is still and always will be there, my willingness to commit to the preparation necessary to play another season has waned to a level that I feel is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the position.
â€œI want to wish Mike Munchak and the Tennessee Titans the best of luck in the future.Â I have had a fantastic five years here, and my family and I look forward to remaining part of the Middle Tennessee community that has been extremely gracious towards us and an honor to play for.”
Collinsâ€™ 40,441 yards ranks 11th in league history.Â The fifth overall draft pick in 1995 out of Penn State, Collins was the first player ever taken by Carolina Panthers.Â He also played for the Saints, Giants, and Raiders.Â Collins was selected to two Pro Bowls 12 years apart â€“ 1996 and 2008.
Collinsâ€™ departure leaves even more uncertainty at quarterback for Tennessee.Â Vince Young is expected to be traded or released once the lockout ends.Â The Titans drafted Washington quarterback Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick in April.Â Rusty Smith is the only other quarterback on the roster.