The second player who performed strictly as a tight end to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Syracuse University star joined the Baltimore Colts as a No. 2 draft pick in 1963 and quickly established himself as a premier talent at his position. He played nine seasons with the Colts and then finished his 10-year career with the San Diego Chargers in 1972. Mackey was not like other tight ends of his day, who were typically thought of as just another tackle on the line of scrimmage. His breakaway speed made him a legitimate long-distance threat.
Even though leg and knee injuries combined to cut short his career, he was a durable performer who missed only one game in 10 years. Mackey started every game as a rookie and then became the only first-year star to be picked for that year’s Pro Bowl. He also played in four other Pro Bowls during the 1960s. For three straight years in 1966, 1967 and 1968, he was the NFL’s all-league tight end. In 10 seasons, the one-time NFL Players Association president caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns. As a rookie, he caught 35 passes for 726 yards and a career high 20.7-yard average. That year, the Colts also utilized his speed as a kickoff return specialist and he averaged 30.1 yards on nine returns. Perhaps his most famous single play came in Super Bowl V when he grabbed a deflected pass from Johnny Unitas that produced a 75-yard touchdown.
John Mackey … No. 2 draft pick, 1963 … Prototype tight end with breakaway speed, ability to avoid tackles, strong blocker … Long-distance threat who scored six TDs over 50 yards, 1966 … Caught deflected pass for 75-yard TD, Super Bowl V … Career record: 331 catches, 5,236 yards, 38 TDs … Three-time All-NFL, played in five Pro Bowls … Second tight end to enter Hall … Born September 24, 1941, in New York, New York … Died July 6, 2011, at age of 69.