John Mackey, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 69. As a tight end for the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers, Mackey caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns over 10 seasons. Mackey’s significance went well beyond his substantial on-field accomplishments. He helped found the NFL Players Association after the AFL-NFL merger, and worked served as its first president. He was also a named plaintiff in an antitrust law suit that helped eliminate the Rozelle Rule, which eventually led to free agency. Richard Goldstein’s excellent piece in the New York Times included this excerpt from an article Mackey wrote regarding his role in free agency:
“My name has long been associated with the cause of free agency in the N.F.L.,” Mackey wrote in The New York Times in 1992. “What most people don’t know is that my commitment stemmed mostly from one incident in the N.F.L. in which I was handed a piece of paper, a contract, and was told to sign it. Of course I didn’t, and from that moment of youthful pique evolved the fight by N.F.L. players to choose for whom they work.”
As John Clayton writes, Mackey suffered from various health problems that may have been related to his playing career. These problems led to the creation of the “88 plan,” which provided retired players money for nursing homes and adult daycare.
UNC Football Player Sues School, NCAA
University of North Carolina (UNC) football player Michael McAdoo has filed suit against the university and the NCAA in an attempt to restore his eligibility to play football in 2o11. One of the various allegations is that UNC allegedly failed to advise McAdoo that he could be represented by his own legal counsel in connection with NCAA proceedings. Darren Heitner of the Sports Agent Blog has the story and links to Andy Staples’ excellent piece. Stay tuned for my analysis of the legal counsel issue next week.
NBA Players Consider Overseas Opportunities
SI.com’s Sam Amick has the story on whether NBA players will follow the lead of Deron Williams, who reportedly has a deal with a Turkish team that will allow his to play in Turkey until the end of the NBA lockout.