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|John Mackey, seen in 1970, helped redefine the tight end position with a mix of strength and speed.|
“He caught 35 passes for 726 yards and a career high 20.7-yard average as a rookie in 1963, when he was selected to the Pro Bowl. Mackey also played a crucial role in the Colts winning Super Bowl V in 1971. His catch of a Johnny Unitas pass that had been deflected by two other players -- Colts receiver Eddie Hinton and Dallas Cowboys defender Mel Renfro -- went for 75 yards and a touchdown. The Colts won 16-13 on Jim O'Brien's 32-yard field goal with 5 seconds left. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome also offered their condolences on Mackey's passing. "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," Bisciotti said. "John set the standard by which tight ends are measured on the field, and he will be sorely missed not only by his family, but also by the entire Baltimore community. " "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," Newsome added. Syracuse named Mackey, who played for the Orange from 1960-62, to its all-century team in 1999 and retired his No. 88 in 2007. His legacy is remembered yearly when the John Mackey Award is bestowed upon the player deemed college football's best tight end. ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Previous to John, tight ends were big strong guys ... who would block and catch short passes over the middle. Mackey gave us a tight end who weighed 230, ran a 4.6 and could catch the bomb. It was a weapon other teams didn't have.” -- Hall of Fame coach Don Shula