A Legacy Of Greatness

Google the name John Mackey. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Underneath the composer of ballet music and CEO of Whole Foods lies the John Mackey that sports fans know across the country.

This John Mackey lives in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Widely known as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game of football, Mackey passed away on Thursday morning. He was 69.

This John Mackey lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Playing for the Colts from 1963-1971, Mackey earned respect from his teammates from his play on the field and the way he conducted himself off the field. By all accounts, he was a gentleman. That’s something that Raymond Berry (also a member of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame) told me on the phone on Thursday morning. “He didn’t have an ego,” Berry said. Can you name one athlete that doesn’t have an ego in any sport?

This John Mackey lives in Syracuse, New York.  They’ve retired his number at the Carrier Dome. Just like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. Mackey’s legacy lives on with the presentation of the Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in college football. It’s a big deal when you name an award after you.

This John Mackey lives in Miami, Florida.  Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Mackey caught a pass from Johnny Unitas that deflected off of Eddie Hinton and Mel Renfro. 75 yards later, Mackey made Super Bowl history with his miraculous touchdown reception. The Colts went on to win the game for their only World Championship as the Baltimore Colts.

This John Mackey lives on in the game of football. The former president of the Players Association was remembered by current executive director DeMaurice Smith in a statement on Thursday. “John Mackey is still our leader,” the statement read in part. “His passion continues to define our organization and inspire our players.”  About four years ago, Mackey’s dementia forced him to permanent residence in an assisted living facility. It took years, but the NFL came up with the “88 plan,” named after the number Mackey wore.   It provides $88,000-a-year for nursing home care and up to $50,000 annually for adult day care.

This John Mackey lives on.

Follow him at WBALDash. You can also “like” Dash on Facebook. Just search “Dash of Dachille.”

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