John Mackey

Class of 1992

Career receptions


Pro Bowls


Receiving yards






I got to prove to people I’m as good as they are saying. Sure, I got dollar marks for eyes, but I also have pride in my job. I don’t care if I don’t get a pass just as long as I can take two men with me on my pattern."

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

John Mackey was only the second player who performed strictly as a tight end to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 6-2, 224-pound Syracuse University star joined the Baltimore Colts as a No. 2 draft pick in 1963 and quickly established himself as a premier performer 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. John added another dimension to the position. His breakaway speed made him a legitimate long-distance threat. In 1966 for instance, six of his nine touchdown receptions came on plays of 51, 57, 64, 79, 83 and 89 yards.

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, a Super Bowl record at the time.

1963 Baltimore
1964 Baltimore
1965 Baltimore
1966 Baltimore
1967 Baltimore
1968 Baltimore
1969 Baltimore
1970 Baltimore
1971 Baltimore
1972 San Diego
Career Total
Additional Career Statistics: Rushing: 19-127; Kickoff Returns: 9-271

Championship Games

1964 NFL – Cleveland Browns 27, Baltimore Colts 0
Mackey started at tight end. He caught one pass for two yards.

1968 NFL – Baltimore Colts 34, Cleveland Browns 0
Mackey started at tight end. He caught two passes for 34 yards and ran the ball twice for four yards.

1970 AFC – Baltimore Colts 27, Oakland Raiders 17
Mackey started at tight end. He caught one pass for 14 yards.

1971 AFC – Miami Dolphins 21, Baltimore Colts 0
Mackey did not start. He had one reception for six yards.

Super Bowls

Super Bowl III – New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
Mackey started at tight end. He had three receptions for 35 yards.

Super Bowl V – Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
Mackey started at tight end. He had 2 receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown.

All-NFL: 1966 (AP, UPI, NEA, PFWA, NY), 1967 (AP, NEA, NY), 1968 (AP, UPI, NEA, NY, PW)

All-NFL Second Team: 1967 (UPI)

All-Conference: 1966 (SN), 1967 (SN), 1968 (SN)

All-Pro: 1968 (PFWA, PW)

(5) – 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969

(at time of his retirement following 1972 season)

Super Bowl Records

• [1st] Longest Pass Reception, Game – 75 (vs. Dallas, Super Bowl V)


Colts’ records held by Mackey
(Records through the 1971 season, Mackey’s final season with Baltimore)

• [1st] Longest Pass Reception, Game – 89 (vs. Los Angeles, Oct. 30, 1966)
• [1st] Longest Pass Reception, Super Bowl – 75 (vs. Dallas, Jan. 17, 1971)

Team Statistical Championships
Pass Reception Titles: 1968

• NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1960s
• NFL's 50th Anniversary Team

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1963 Baltimore Colts 8 6 0 (3rd)
1964 Baltimore Colts 12 2 0 (1st)
1965 Baltimore Colts 10 3 1 (2nd)
1966 Baltimore Colts 9 5 0 (2nd)
1967 Baltimore Colts 11 1 2 (2nd)
1968 Baltimore Colts 13 1 0 (1st)
1969 Baltimore Colts 8 5 1 (2nd)
1970 Baltimore Colts 11 2 1 (1st)
1971 Baltimore Colts 10 4 0 (2nd)
1972 San Diego Chargers 4 9 1 (4th)

Full Name: John Mackey

Birthdate: September 24, 1941

Birthplace: New York, New York

Died: July 6, 2011

High School: Hempstead (New York, NY)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 25, 1992

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 1, 1992

Other Members of Class of 1992: Lem Barney, Al Davis, John Riggins

Pro Career: 10 seasons, 139 games

Drafted: 2nd round (19th overall) in 1963 by Baltimore Colts

Uniform Number: #88 with Baltimore, #89 with San Diego

Pro Football Hall of Fame
August 1, 1992


Jack Kemp (presenter):
Well. Jim thank you very much and I am honored today to represent and I do it on behalf of not only myself but all of the great enshrinees of the Hall of Fame including the great Pete Pihos and the great Mike Ditka. I have the honor of introducing the greatest tight end in the history of the NFL John Mackey into the Hall of Fame.

Jim. I want to thank you as introducing me as the father of one of the quarterbacks of the Philadelphia Eagles. I was in Philadelphia recently giving a speech and the emcee got carried away and introduced me as the father of the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and a very distinguished black gentlemen stood up in the back of the room and said he doesn't look like Randal Cunningham to me. I am not Randal's daddy. I am Jeff's daddy but we would like to have his arm and his money but I want to say that my wife and I are thrilled to be among the fans, friends and family of John Mackey.

Of all his accomplishments - All-American in high school in football. and basketball and track. All-American in Syracuse in football -All-Pro 3 times, Pro Bowl 5 times -10 years in the NFL finishing with the Chargers in San Diego after 9 years under Coach Shula with the Baltimore Colts, I want to introduce John Mackey's greatest accomplishment. Of all the things he has done on this earth, his greatest accomplishment is his dear family, his wife Sylvia, Laura, Lisa, Kevin, Sondra, Butch and their precious grandchildren Vanessa and Benjamin. Stand up Sylvia, Lisa, Sondra, Butch, Laura, Vanessa and Benjamin. You see you can't understand JohnMackey until you understand his family. You can't understand John Mackey until you know his mom and his dad. I never meant his father, the Rev. Walter Mackey of the Mt. Sinai of Hempstead, Long Island, NY. The Rev. Mackey is a man of integrity, character and honesty and tenacity and audacity and a great belief in human beings and a great belief in our creator. When John was picked by Ben Schwartzwalter to go to Syracuse Coach Schwartzwalter sent him three airline tickets sent them down to his mom and dad and Rev. Mackey said we can't accept an airline ticket we will drive. I don't want you to beholden to anybody, John Mackey. John ended up at Syracuse, a roommate of Ernie Davis. As I said earlier an American football one of the greatest Syracuse athletes along with Ernie Davis, Jim Brown and so many others and today he is enshrined in the Hall of Fame, the American dream. This is a great example of that dream.

I first met John Mackey out on that football field. Unlike Johnny Unitas I never had the honor of throwing to John Mackey, never had the honor of playing football with John Mackey or playing against John Mackey. I met him at a union hall. He was as Jim pointed out, the President of the NFL Players Union when Pete Rozelle and Al Davis were getting ready to merge the NFL and AFL, John and I were merging the American and National Football league Players Union. It is no secret that I love to give speeches. I appreciate Al Davis making mine seem short.

When I started off speaking to all the player refs of the AFL and NFL, John Mackey didn't say a word, didn't talk for the longest time. Finally, he just said a very few words and with those few words he motivated and inspired and moved men from one position to -another position which is the ultimate example of leadership in our society. And finally, after the meeting was over I said "John why didn't you speak longer?" He said Jack my papa taught me to learn to listen. He said if you listen you will be the smartest man in the room. You will know what you know and besides that you will know what other people know ... you will be the smartest person in the room. Mackey was the smartest man in the room. He was the smartest player on the team maybe other than John Unitas and Coach Shula. I really believe that it is a mistake to call John Mackey a rebel. He wasn't a rebel he was a catalyst. He was not rebellious he was a leader. He understood labor and understood capital. He understood the needs of the employees and recognized that you can't have employees without having employers. We had to represent the best of the working man. We had to have the successful business. He was a bridge. He was a great professional football player and leader who happened to be black and he was a bridge between black and white. Dr. King gave that speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in which he said he dreamed of a day in which America would be free to look at our children not on the basis of the color of their skin, but on the basis of their character and the content of their character. John Mackey is that bridge. He is making better dreams come true in America, working between black and white, labor and management between enterprise and working men and women. He cares about this country, he cares about our family, he is a man who truly is blessed and recognizes biblical injunction that those who have been blessed have an obligation to be a blessing to their family and to their community and to their country and ultimately to the world. I want to give you not only a great football player, not only a great family man, but I want to give you a great American that personification of Dr. King, the great .John Mackey of the Baltimore Colts the next enshrinee of the 1992 class.

John Mackey:
Thank you very much Jack.

You know when I found out I was going into the Hall of Fame I was with Jack and Joanne and my wife, Sylvia. Jack gave me one of the greatest compliments and I want to share that with you today. When we found out that I had been inducted as many of you have heard, the operator at the hotel when I called said, 'John Mackey you have just been indicted.' I said, 'Indicted?! For what?' She said, 'you have been indicted into the Hall of Fame.'

Jack said to me, John I just want to tell you something. You know John Unitas never threw you a pass because you were a minority, John threw you a pass because first, he knew you would get open and second he knew you would catch it and third he knew you would know what to do with it. That makes me feel good because it is very important that we evaluate people on the basis of their performance alone. So Jack you were right. I got to thank Mike Ditka for getting in the door at the Hall of Fame and making it possible for me to come here. I am going to stand in the door until the rest of the tight ends get in. You know it takes a team to get to the Hall of Fame and I want to introduce you to the team that was there for me Monday after the Sunday game, there when it hurts. My quarterback and roommate for 29 years Sylvia:, and my three motivating children because I had to run hard to put milk on the table, Lisa, Laura would you stand up and you know I had to run real hard to feed this one, Kevin. There are a lot of people I need to thank, I will start with my father, Rev. Walter Mackey. He used to say to me when I was in high school, "son, I know you scored a touchdown but where are your feet?" I had no idea what he was talking about. I want him to know, he is 87 years old and I know he is watching. I want to tell him first I love him and second I know where my feet are, I keep them placed on the ground so I keep my head out of the clouds. My father always said to me, regardless what you become in pursuit of your goals, I didn't know what it meant when I was a little boy. But I know what it means today but I understand now. But one of the most important things he said to me when 1 was about 8 or 9 years old, he said I want to tell you something son, if you don't pass in school you are not going to play on the field. So one always tried to pass in school. My mother passed, her name as Marnack, we called her Marmack and Marmack had a white dress she was going to wear when I was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I know she is watching today and I want to tell her, baby I love you and I did exactly what she told me the day I signed so I could start playing football, my sophomore year in high school. She signed a little note to take back to school and she told me just be the best football player you can be and I have always tried Mom to be the best I could be.

I would like to thank Mrs. Church my English teach at Hempstead High School and Mr. Keener my math professor, they guaranteed me that if I carried the books while I carried the ball, that they would make sure that I would pass the college boards and go to any college I wanted to go to. And I thank them because they were right. I would like to thank my sister and my brothers because there was six boys and one girl and they taught me about competition because I had to fight for my fair share at the dinner table.

I would like to thank Jim Brown, Jim Brown was an island he came from Long Island and because I saw him at the play grounds and then I saw him go to Syracuse University and then I saw him play in the NFL and he looked like me and made me believe that I could do the same thing and I thank him for that. I got to thank Ben Schwartzwalter my head coach at Syracuse University and the coaching staff first for giving me number 88 and not 44. Number 44 was a running back; they told me I was a tight end, I thank you for that. I would like to thank Syracuse University for the great education and preparing me for the life after sports. And to my coach Joe Symbothy who is sitting over there who taught me how to hit, he didn't teach me how to run pass patterns, but he taught me how to hit but he taught me something more important, he said "son you spend four years at Syracuse University I demand that you get more than a touchdown" I got a good education. I thank you Joe.

And to the Baltimore Colts, I want to say that the first person I meant when I joined the Baltimore Colts in 1963 was the equipment manager Fred Shuback. Freddie said "I shine your shoes every day I polish and I clean your helmet, I press your practice uniform, I demand that you play the way I make you look.'' And I say to Freddie, I am still playing the way you make me look. I would like to thank Don Shula. Don was a rookie coach when I was a rookie and I will never forget he said the team that is going to win on the field is the team that can make the right adjustment after the ball is snapped. And I say to Don Shula I am still making adjustments after the ball is snapped. And to Jim Muchler who came out of retirement who was the tight end for the Baltimore Colts years before I came in, he came back to teach me how to play tight end. He told me if I never remember anything, just remember this ''just get off on the count" and I am still getting off on the count Jim. And to Dick Feilski they thought I would never learn how to run pass patterns, but we spent hours together. They didn't believe we could do it but we did it, Dick. I had many teammates and I have to thank all of them.

It started in Roosevelt, NY on the play grounds and went to Hempstead High School and then to Syracuse University and then to the Baltimore Colts. I thank them because I am here because they were there then. They made me what I am. I have always been a team player. I would like to thank the NFL Players Assoc. for electing me President in 1970 and having enough faith in backing me all the way. I love them for that.

You know, it is a little sad because there are no Baltimore Colts today but it makes me feel good when I look over there and I see the Colts Corral, I see Colts fan. Colts fans I want you to know I love you. You know we never had a losing season and I want everyone to know they were the secret weapon. Now is there life after football, you bet there is. I want to thank my good friend Leon Wright. Leon Wright told me I want you to understand that just because you are not on the playing field he said that life is still overcoming obstacles, making adjustments and never giving up. He said sometime John just like in football you are going to get sound advice and other times you are going to get good or bad advice. He said that happens, but please remember as you go into the business world that you can't celebrate too much on victory and you can't cry, too much in defeat. I would like to thank you Leon when you were there with me in 1963 when I started and you are right out there right now.

I thank the NFL Players and the Better Boys Foundation for naming the Mackey awards after me. It has been around for 30 years. We raised millions of dollars and help those that need help. You know, ladies and gentlemen my mother has a habit that some of my best friends are up there with her and I want to tell you about it because if they had their way they would have been here today. Ralph Jones is one of the first guys I met in Baltimore he was always there. He actually brought home Lisa and Sylvia from the hospital when I was in training camp. He actually saw my daughter before I did. He passed before he had an opportunity to be here and I know he is up there smiling today and I just wanted to say Ralph I love you. And to Laudie. Laudie the last time I saw him he said John whenever you go into the Hall of Fame I will be there. He was there every day for every game that I ever played, playing the Colts fight song and I can hear that Colts fight song and Laudie is up there playing and if you throw me a ball I will run through the crowd. And you know John Paglione was a guy I went to college with and we played together at Syracuse University he called me in January when he found out I was going into the Hall of Fame, he is from Ohio, last month he passed. I didn't know it. He had given up open heart surgery in order to be here but God took him away. And I want you to know John, we love you and we love Ann and may God bless you.

You know if I had my way, they called me a lot of different things, but if I had my way I would take my #88 I would divide it into two #44's and I would take my roommate Ernie Davis, the first black to win the Heisman Trophy, into the Hall of Fame with me and I would like to say thank you, may God Bless you and it is a pleasure.