John Mackey Baltimore Colts & San Diego Chargers
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."
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.